CFS seventh-grade students presented their culminating science projects as part of their first semester unit on space, which entailed plotting a telescope route through the solar system and arguing why it is the optimal path of travel. Creating pitch presentations for NASA, students each took turns explaining their suggested route that the next telescope should take to travel to its final position, which is orbiting the Sun on the outskirts of the solar system.
Students began the space unit trying to answer the question, “What forces keep the parts of our solar system together and how can we use this knowledge to plot a telescope route through space?” Applying their prior knowledge of the solar system and space from sixth grade, students practiced modeling with the smaller sub-system of the Sun-Earth-Moon system, then built upon these skills to develop a classroom scale model of the entire solar system that ended up spanning the entire length of the downstairs Middle School hallway!
During this unit, seventh-graders also examined what factors affect the motion of objects within the solar system – specifically, gravity. Using a few different online simulations, students looked at the role that gravity plays in how the planets orbit the Sun and that the amount of gravitational pull that a planet has depends on its mass. After conducting investigations to prove that magnetic fields do exist, including comparing the magnetic fields of different planets and how each one’s composition plays an important role in the strength of its magnetic field, students later translated this information into creating a strong magnetic field that would protect their telescope as they plotted its route through space while predicting how the telescope may behave in space due to its magnetic field.
The presentations were creative, thorough, and certainly demonstrated a level of mastery in this unit. To view highlights from a few of the presentations, please click here.