Mars for Earthlings > Lesson Modules > Birth of Planets

Birth of Planets

Julia Kahmann-Robinson, PhD University of Utah; Marjorie A. Chan, PhD University of Utah
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Summary

This learning module and related laboratory exercise exposes students to Solar Nebular Theory, planetary body classification, and planet differentiation. Students will be able to compare and contrast the formation history of Mars and Earth as well as confidently assess the present classification of the planet Pluto.

Learning Goals


Students will be able to:

Context for Use

This learning module is meant for adaptation in an introductory earth science course and/or planetary science course. Students do not need any previous knowledge to be successful in the activities offered in this module.

Description and Teaching Materials

In-Class Activities

Homework/Lab

Teaching Notes and Tips

JELLO 1-2-3 Analogy

  1. Small class size <20: have JELLO ingredients made up and ready for disbursement at end of class for at Homework.
  2. Large class size >20: have both ingredients and one pre-made JELLO cup for students to analyze and develop an analogy for planet differentiation

Pluto debate

  1. Prior to class assign students to either the Affirmative or Negative team so students have a chance to develop an argument. OR
  2. During class, allow students 10-15min to develop an argument

General Comments

Assessment

  1. After in-class debate, students will write up a short 1 page cited discussion paper on their opinion regarding the classification of Pluto (see link for paper guidelines). Make sure students include and discuss the current planetary classification scheme.
  2. Students will develop an analogy, as a class, between JELL-O 1-2-3 and planetary differentiation

References and Resources

  1. Birth of the solar system video (National Geographic): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1AXbpYndGc
  2. Solar Nebular Theory and animation: http://atropos.as.arizona.edu/aiz/teaching/nats102/mario/solar_system.html
  3. Planetary Differentiation and Planet Comparison Overview: http://nineplanets.org/overview.html
  4. Jello 1-2-3 recipe: http://gourmetish.blogspot.com/2006/10/jello-1-2-3.html
  5. Mars vs. Earth size research: Brandon, Alan 2011. Nature 473, 460–461 (26 May 2011) doi:10.1038/473460a
  6. Pluto and Planetary Body Classification : http://www.iau.org/public/pluto/
  7. New Horizon Probe to Pluto NASA Video (see homepage for link) : http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/main/index.html


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