Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Annotated Bib - The Solar System

The Solar System consists of the sun, planets, their moons, and other bodies, such as meteors and comets that orbit the sun. The planets in order from the sun are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The sun is by far the biggest. The planets are held in orbit around the sun by a force called gravity. We cannot see the planets with our naked eyes, but with telescopes. The planets have dramatically different sizes and atmospheres.

Exploring the Planets! By Bonnie Sachello-Sawyer. 2000. 80 p. Scholastic, (9780590685733). Gr. 3-5.
This activity book includes information about the planets plus activities such as reproducible games, mini-books, a read-aloud play, simple science experiments, art projects and even a planet fact poster. Explores all 9 planets (including Pluto).

Exploring the Solar System: A History with 22 Activities. By Mary Kay Carson. 2008. 176 p. Chicago Review Press (9781556527159).  Gr. 3-5. 
This book not only introduces the solar system, but also the history of human exploration in it. Each chapter has sidebars containing biographical sketches of noteworthy astronomers and other scientists, additional information on subjects such as telescopes, and activities relating to ideas of that time. Does not include Pluto. 

Our Solar System. By Seymour Simon. 2007. 72 p. Collins; Updated Edition (9780061140082). Gr. 3-5.
This book provides readers with a tour of the sun, the eight planets and their moons, asteroids, meteoroids and comets. The award winning Seymour Simon has teamed up with the Smithsonian Institution on this new and updated version of the universe. Does not consider Pluto a planet.

The Planets in Our Solar System. By Franklyn M. Branley. Illus. by Kevin O'Malley. 1998. 32 p. Collins (9780064451789). Gr. 1-2.
Simple points are made precisely and succinctly by Branley so as to avoid distracting commentary and dialogue. O'Malley provides colorful illustrations that go along with the informative facts that are easy for early elementary students to understand. The author uniquely presents the planets in groups based on heavenly bodies, temperatures, size and other comparative terms as opposed to listing the planets in the order they come. The book has additional websites and hands on activities. Includes Pluto.

The Solar System (True Books: Space). By Howard K. Trammel. 2010. 48 p. Children's Press, (9780531228050). Gr. 3-5.
This series explores the solar system, galaxies, stars, and other objects in space. Other books in the series include True Books on Earth, Saturn and Mercury. This book is full of catchy photographs and panoramas of outer space. The chapters are full of fascinating details and move from the inner to the outer planets. Pluto is not included.

There's No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System. By Tish Rabe. Illus. by Aristides Ruiz. 1999. 48 p. Random House Books for Young Readers, (9780679891154). Gr. 1-2.
Fans of Dr. Seuss's favorite cat in the hat will love this book. Readers will learn about the solar system through rhymes and cartoon like illustrations similar to the originals. The familiar format and entertaining text are very appealing to early elementary readers. Includes Pluto.

This website allows children to click on any of the orbiting planets to get additional information such as how much you would way on a given planet. The website provides additional tabs to learn about asteroids, comets and each of the planet's moons.

Planet Facts
Very organized page of all of the nine planets (including Pluto), with images and additional information when clicking on a particular planet.

Click any planet on this website to get additional information; additional links to view pictures and video clips. This site looks like it could be useful for a fourth or fifth grader who needs to find some research for a project on the solar system.

The education section under the NASA website. Teachers can go to this website to gain more in depth information about the solar system. Different tabs allow the teacher to learn about explorations, planetary processes and weather, the early solar system, and astrology. This particular link takes teachers to the What We Explore: Education Activities link. From there the teacher can choose from a variety of PDF downloads for a number of activities exploring motion, organization, the study of the sun, the inner planets, and much more.

The Earth in Space
Directions for the teacher to guide a virtual exploration of which planet has the largest volcano in our solar system. The activity instructions include vocabulary, building background, guided exploration, review/assessment, and even extended activities to reach all learners. By exploring which planet has the biggest volcano, the visitor goes through information and facts about all of the nine planets (including Pluto).

For Teachers
Virginia Standards of Learning
4.7 The student will investigate and understand the organization of the solar system. Key concepts include
a)    the planets in the solar system;
b)    the order of the planets in the solar system; and
c)    the relative sizes of the planets.

Background Information from Curriculum Framework
  • Our solar system is ancient. Early astronomers believed that Earth was the center of the universe and all other heavenly bodies orbited around Earth. We now know that our sun is the center of our solar system and eight planets, a handful of dwarf planets, 170 named moons, dust, gas, and thousands of asteroids and comets orbit around the sun. Our solar system is made up of eight planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
  • Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are considered terrestrial planets. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are called gas giants.
  • Mercury is closest to the sun and is a small, heavily cratered planet. Mercury looks like our moon. Since Pluto’s reclassification from planet to dwarf planet, Mercury is now the smallest planet in our solar system.
  • Venus is second from the sun. It is similar to Earth in size and mass, and has a permanent blanket of clouds that trap so much heat that the temperatures on the surface of Venus are hot enough to melt lead.
  • Earth is third from the sun. Earth’s atmosphere, the liquid water found on Earth, and its distance from the sun, among many other factors, make Earth a haven for life.
  • Mars is fourth from the sun. The atmosphere on Mars is thin and there is a vast network of canyons and riverbeds on the red planet. Scientists hypothesize that Mars once supported a wet, warm Earth-like climate.
  • Jupiter is fifth from the sun. Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system and is considered a gas giant. Jupiter has no solid surface.
  • Saturn is sixth from the sun. Early scientists thought Saturn was the only planet with rings, but we now know that all four gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) have rings.
  • Uranus is seventh from the sun. Uranus is a gas giant.
  • Neptune is eighth from the sun. Neptune appears blue through telescopes and is a gas giant.
  • The eight planets sorted by size from largest to smallest are: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Earth, Venus, Mars, and Mercury.
  • Pluto is no longer included in the list of planets in our solar system due to its small size and irregular orbit. Many astronomers questioned whether Pluto should be grouped with worlds like Earth and Jupiter. In 2006, this debate led the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the recognized authority in naming heavenly objects, to formally reclassify Pluto. On August 24, 2006, Pluto's status was officially changed from planet to dwarf planet.
  • A new distinct class of objects called "dwarf planets" was identified in 2006. It was agreed that "planets" and "dwarf planets" are two distinct classes of objects. The first members of the dwarf planet category are Ceres, Pluto and 2003 UB313, given the name Eris. More dwarf planets are expected to be announced by the IAU in the future.
  • What differentiates a dwarf planet from a planet? For the most part, they are identical, but there is one key difference: A dwarf planet has not "cleared the neighborhood" around its orbit, which means it has not become gravitationally dominant and it shares its orbital space with other bodies of a similar size.
  • Pluto is smaller than seven of the moons in our solar system and cannot be seen without a telescope.

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