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Order It Up!

Applet by University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) (more info) - Starting Point page by R. Teed (SERC).
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This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


"Order It Up" is a computer game that could be the basis for a great think-pair-share activity about solar system statistics. UCAR has a series of space trivia (Java Applet) games that are meant for individuals to play online. A teacher in front of a classroom with an Internet-capable computer and a computer projector could project the game onto the screen. There's no time limit for each puzzle. The one I was thinking of is Order It Up, in which the players are supposed to put planets in order on the basis of various statistics (i.e. mass, # of moons, etc.). Players must complete several puzzles to finish the game and it keeps score with a jumbled photo of a planet that unjumbles as the player orders different planet lists. The game gives the players 10 total hints. It takes between 5 and 10 minutes for individuals to play. The individual puzzles (8-10 of them in random order) would make good think-pair-share activities, especially if students have just read a chapter on the planets.

Learning Goals

This exercise gives students:

Context for Use

There are about 8-10 lists, so with 2-3 minutes of student discussion and about 5 minutes of lecture per list, this would fill a 75 minute period.

Teaching Materials

The instructor will need:

Teaching Notes and Tips

For each list, give the student pairs 2 minutes (use a buzzer?) to assemble a list. Then the class as a whole should direct the instructor to enter the answers into the applet and decide whether to go for a hint. In between puzzles, the lecturer would explain details such as why Uranus and Neptune have such low gravities given their sizes. Having students ask questions after completing lists might be a good way to direct the lecture element.


This activity includes informal assessment of the class.

References and Resources

UCAR's Windows to the Universe (more info) site also contains a wealth of instructional material about space, images, links (some to data), tours of such topics as "Water on Mars", and other useful items. It also contains other games, two of which could be adapted into activities:

For more trivia on a variety of subjects:


Geoscience:Lunar and Planetary Science, Physics:Astronomy:Solar System

Resource Type

Audio/Visual:Animations/Video, Activities:Classroom Activity

Grade Level

College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level

Ready for Use

Ready to Use

Earth System Topics

Solar System and Astronomy


Solar system


Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Planetary Science

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