The Solar System (SOL 6.10)

Unit:Solar System
Topic:Gravity and Planets

The student will investigate and understand the organization of the solar system and the relationships among the various bodies that comprise it. Key concepts include

the, sun, moon, Earth, other planets and their moons, meteors, asteroids, and comets;
relative size of and distance between planets;
the role of gravity;
revolution and rotation;
the mechanics of day and night and phases of the moon;
the relationship of the Earth’s tilt and seasons;
the cause of tides; and
the history and technology of space exploration.


Our solar system consists of more than just the Earth and the Sun. When we think about how vast our solar system is, we feel very small and cannot image how enormous it really is. This is especially true for children. This lesson is designed to teach children that the solar system need not be such a strange unknown place, but rather a new horizon for them to explore.

The force that keeps the planets in their orbit is called gravity. It is important for students to understand gravity as the effects of gravity is everywhere in their world. They do not float away into space because of gravitational pull. Gravity is responsible for tides, keeping the oceans on earth, and rainfall. Thus, gravity is a significant requirement for life. Gravity is even needed to walk–it controls the fluid in our inner ear, giving us the ability to balance.

During the introduction lesson for the unit, the students expressed that they wanted to know about their weight in space and on other planets/the moon. It is important to allow the students to explore their interest, as this is a vital part of the learning experience.

Lesson Goals:

Understand the force of gravity
Practice the order of the planets
Work cooperatively with peers


The students will be able to:


Calculate their weight on the moon
Calculate how high they could jump on the moon
Explain and describe the procedures clearly


Demonstrate active listening skills as demonstrated by observable attention to others.


Cooperate with others during group activities
Be able to relate science to his/her everyday life
Model of the solar system


Tape measure(2)
Butcher paper

Advance Organizer:

Sparkle Game

Organizer: This game can be adjusted to help the students learn and remember the names and order of the planets

Exploration: How much do you weigh and how far can you jump on the moon?
Probing Questions:

1. I told you before that weight is the force created by gravity and you have just read that the Moon’s gravity is only one-sixth of the Earth’s gravity. What does that mean? (Think about the experiment and how the pull on the rock was lessened when you added water).
2. What would you need to do to find your weight on the moon?
3. If a newborn baby weighs 6 pounds here on earth how much would the baby weigh on the moon?
4. I also told you that gravity is the force that keeps our feet on the ground. What happens when you jump up?
5. How do you think jour jump on the moon would differ from your jump on the earth?
6. How would you calculate how high you could jump on the moon?

Inquiry: Divide the students into three groups.

The first group will weigh themselves and calculate what their weigh would be on the moon.

The second group will jump and measure the distance. They will then calculate how far they could jump on the moon.

The third group will jump up, making a mark on the wall (paper). They will then calculate how high they would have jumped on the moon.

The groups will rotate until each group has completed the calculations.


The moon’s gravitational pull is one-sixth that of the earth’s. We have learned that you will weigh less on the moon than on the earth. I am going to ask a question. What I want you to do is to think about the question and answer it without using any outside information. After you have written what you believe the answer is, find the answer using your book, the Internet or an encyclopedia. Write the answer and compare it to yours. How do you think your weight will differ if a moon or planet’s gravitational pull is greater than the earth?