Investigating dimensions of the solar system
This activity has benefited from a review and suggestion process as a part of an activity development workshop.
This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process as a part of an activity development workshop. Workshop participants were provided with a set of criteria against which they evaluated each others' activities. After the review, the authors developed a plan for revising their activities based on the feedback they received from their peers. To learn more about this review process, see http://serc.carleton.edu/quantskills/review_processes.html#2006.
This page first made public: Nov 17, 2006
Students use planetary mass and radius to calculate density and compare these quantities to orbital radius in order to assess trends and patters in the solar system. Excel is used to graphically compare the data (mass, and radius) and the calculation results (density) orbital distance. The results are used to investigate and evaluate the Nebular Hypothesis.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
Materials:A student handout (Microsoft Word 98kB Nov17 06) with introductory information and questions for the students.
A solution worksheet (Excel 29kB Nov17 06) with all the calculations keyed out.
Teaching Notes and Tips
Instructor must be sure that students apply the concepts of mass, size, and volume, especially in the calculations of density.
- Incorporation of three distinct, appropriate, and properly labeled graphs (10 points)
- Use of technology to incorporate Excel graphs into the Word document (20 points)
- Interpretation of the results with respect to the validity of the Nebular Hypothesis (10 points)
- Description of trends in the solar system (size, mass, and density) (25 points)
- Proper calculations (15 points)
- Title page and thesis statement (5 points)
- Writing style (15 points)
- 100 points total
References and Resources
Extrasolar Planets Catalogue: http://exoplanet.eu/catalog.php
Planetary fact sheet: http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/index.html
Using Excel and Word: http://kanat.jsc.vsc.edu/pc/
International Astronomical Union's decision regarding Pluto's status
NASA's explanation of Pluto's status: http://sse.jpl.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Pluto&Display=Overview