Astro-Venture  NASA

Astronomy Training National Standards and Objectives

Click here to download PDF of correlation to California State Standards

Astro-Venture Astronomy Training Unit Overview
States of Matter, Human Health, Systems and Scientific Inquiry

The Astro-Venture Astronomy Lessons have been developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the purpose of increasing students' awareness of and interest in astrobiology and the many career opportunities that utilize science, math and technology skills. The lessons are designed for educators to use with students in grades 5-8 in conjunction with the Astro-Venture multimedia modules on the Astro-VentureWeb site.

In the Astronomy section, students begin as Junior Astronomers where they identify human needs for survival and complete the online Astronomy Training module to discover the astronomical conditions of our solar system that make Earth habitable to humans. When they have successfully completed their training, they earn their badge and are promoted to Senior Astronomer. They then engage in off-line Astronomy lessons to discover why we need the astronomical conditions identified in Astronomy Training. Finally, they proceed to their online Astronomy Mission where they work with NASA scientists to find a star system and planet with the astronomy features that will support human life. Before embarking on further research in other areas, they must summarize their research findings and convince the World Science Foundation (a fictional group made up of their peers) that the planet they have found is worthy of further exploration.

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Astronomy Introduction

The Astronomy unit, objectives, standards, lesson structure and rubrics are explained in detail in the following document.

Part 1: Astronomy Unit Introduction

Unit Concept: For a planet to support human life, it must have liquid water at or near the surface all of the time. There are astronomical factors, which affect the ability of a planet to have these conditions.

Overview of Part 1: Students are introduced to the basic requirements for human survival. Using an online, multimedia module, they change factors of our solar system and draw conclusions about which factors are necessary for human survival.

Standards Alignment

Lesson Main Concept Objective Benchmarks/ Standards
1. Unit Introduction Humans need water, oxygen, food, gravity, a moderate temperature and protection from poisonous gases and high levels of radiation to survive.
  • Students will research and list the necessities for human survival in their Astro Journals.
  • They will write a story about human survival identifying these necessities, the consequences of not meeting them and how they are met.
  • After comparing characteristics of the Earth with other planets and moons, students will predict the features of Earth that they believe are crucial to human survival.
Meets:
2061: 6C 3-5 #1, 2
NSES: F1 5-8

Addresses:
2061: 4B 6-8 #2
NSES: A1 5-8
ISTE: 3, 5

2. Astronomy Training Module Certain astronomical conditions help to meet some of our human survival needs.
  • Students make descriptive, un-biased observations of the effects of changes to our solar system on Earth.
  • Students will identify the characteristics of our solar system that allow for human survival.
Meets:
NSES: A1 5-8
ISTE: 3, 5

Addresses:
2061: 4B 6-8 #2
2061: 4A 6-8 #1
NSES: D3 5-8

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Part 2: States of Matter

Overview of Part 2: Students explore the conditions required for water to be in a liquid state. They discover that temperature is the essential variable. They then explore how temperature affects the motion of molecules and molecular bonds.

Standards Alignment

Lesson Main Concept Objective Benchmarks/ Standards
3. Properties of Matter Matter can exist in three states: solid, liquid and gas. Each state has unique properties.
  • Students will identify the properties of solids, liquids and gases and will cite similarities and differences in those properties.
Meets:
NSES: B1 K-4

Addresses:
NSES: A1 5-8

4. Matter and Molecules The properties of matter derive from the bonds between the molecules and the motion of the molecules that make up the matter.
  • Students will explain and illustrate that the properties of matter derive from the connections between molecules.
  • They will demonstrate their learning on a poster.
Meets:
2061: 4D 6-8 #3
NSES: B1 9-12

Addresses:
NSES: A1 5-8

5. Changing States of Matter Matter changes state when temperature changes.
  • Students will use an inquiry process to identify temperature as the variable that causes a substance to change from one state to another.
  • They will then identify the relationship between temperature and the molecular bonds and movement in a substance.
  • Students will explain the temperature conditions of a planet necessary for human life.
Meets:
2061: 4D 6-8 #3
NSES: B5 9-12
NSES: A1 5-8

Addresses:
NCTM: 4, 5, 9

6. Measuring Temperature Temperature is a measurement of the movement of atoms and molecules in a substance. Thermometers using various temperature scales measure temperature.
  • Students will identify that temperature measures the movement of atoms in a substance.
  • Students will identify the thermometer as the tool and the Fahrenheit, Celsius, and Kelvin scales as the means by which we measure temperature.
Meets:
2061: 4D 6-8 #3
NSES: B5 9-12

Addresses:
NSES: A1 5-8
NCTM: 4

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Part 3: The Planetary Temperature System

Overview of Part 3: Students explore the planetary temperature system. They further explore how each part influences the system and the consequences of disrupting that system.

Standards Alignment

Lesson Main Concept Objective Benchmarks/ Standards
7. Thinking in Systems Systems consist of many parts. The parts usually influence each other. A system may not work as well (or at all) if a part of it is missing, broken, worn out, mismatched or misconnected. Thinking about things as systems means looking for how every part relates to other parts. Any system is usually connected to other systems.
  • Students will explain: how a system is made up of interacting parts, that when parts of the system change it affects the system, and that systems are often related to other systems.
Meets:
2061: 11A 3-5 #1
2061: 11A 3-5 #2
2061: 11A 6-8 #2
2061: 11A 6-8 #3
NSES: UCP1 K-12

Addresses:
NSES: A1 5-8

8. The Solar System The solar system is a system. One of the ways that the parts of the solar system interact with each other is through gravity.
  • Students will explain the solar system as a system.
  • Students will explain how gravity affects the solar system.
Meets:
2061: 11A 3-5 #1
2061: 11A 3-5 #2
2061: 11A 6-8 #2
2061: 11A 6-8 #3
2061: 4G 6-8 #2
NSES: UCP1 K-12
NSES: D3 5-8

Addresses:
NSES: A1 5-8
NCTM: 2, 5, 9
ISTE: 3, 5

9. Planetary Temperature As A System The type of star and the distance of a planet from the star affect two major parts of the system that controls the surface temperature of a planet (planetary temperature system). The hotter a star is, the further the planet needs to orbit in order to maintain liquid water on its surface.
  • Students will explain how the star type and the distance of a planet from its star affects the planetary temperature system.
  • Students will categorize stars on a Hertzsprung-Russell (HR) Diagram. They will also model the relationship of star type and orbital distance and will draw conclusions about the stars most suitable for supporting human life.
Meets:
2061: 11A 6-8 #2
NSES: UCP1 K-12

Addresses:
NSES: A1 5-8
NCTM: 2, 5, 9

10. Atmosphere and Temperature The atmosphere of a planet affects the planetary temperature system, which determines the temperature of that planet.
  • Students will explain and illustrate that atmosphere can raise the temperature of a planet.
  • Students put together a concept map that shows the parts of the planetary temperature system.
  • Students will explain why atmosphere is important to habitability and how star type, distance and atmosphere all work together to determine a planet's temperature system.
Meets:
2061: 11A 6-8 #2
NSES: UCP1 K-12
NSES: A1 5-8

Addresses:
NSES: A1 5-8
NCTM: 4, 5, 9

11. Atmospheric Mass The amount of atmosphere on a planet depends on the planet's gravity, which is determined by the planet's mass.
  • Students will explain and illustrate how planetary mass affects atmosphere to effect a change in the temperature of a planet.
  • Students will explain why 1/4 to 4x Earth's mass is a requirement for habitability.
Meets:
2061: 11A 6-8 #2
NSES: UCP1 K-12

Addresses:
NSES: A1 5-8
NCTM: 2, 5, 9

12. Disrupting the System If Jupiter were in an elliptical orbit at 1 AU, it could cause a change in Earth's orbit, which would have consequences for the planetary temperature system.
  • Students explain how a planet's orbit could be disrupted.
  • Students explore the implications of such a disruption on the planetary temperature system and on human habitability.
Meets:
2061: 11A 6-8 #2
NSES: UCP1 K-12

Addresses:
NSES: A1 5-8
ISTE: 3, 5

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Part 4: Unit Conclusion and Evaluation

Overview of Part 4: Students use an online, multimedia module to simulate the techniques that scientists might use to find a star system and planet that meet the astronomical conditions required for human habitability. Students then summarize their learning from this unit in a final project.

Standards Alignment

Lesson Main Concept Objective Benchmarks/ Standards
13. Astro-Venture Mission Module Training Scientists use methods such as spectroscopy, Doppler Shift, photometry and Kepler's Third Law: to collect data from a star. They then interpret this data to determine if the star system has the astronomical conditions required for human habitability.
  • Students will use the scientific inquiry process to describe the methods scientists use to find a star system that has the astronomical conditions required for human habitability.
  • Students will compare and analyze data to find a star system that meets the astronomical conditions required for human habitability.
Addresses:
2061 1B 6-8, #1
NSES: A1 5-8
NCTM: 5, 9
ISTE: 3, 5, 6
14. Final Project The astronomical requirements for habitability are not sufficient for sustaining human life on a planet. Additional requirements must be met.
  • Students will write a proposal to convince the "World Science Foundation" that the star and planet they found is worthy of further study and exploration. They will include a description of how the planet meets astronomical requirements for habitability, additional requirements that must be met, the benefits of conducting this study and the type of further study they would recommend for determining if the planet meets these additional requirements.
Addresses:
NSES: A1 5-8

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More Resources

The following link contains a wide variety of activities, web sites, events, organizations, and contests related to Astro-Venture and Astrobiology. The resources are geared for all grade levels, from kindergarten through graduate school.
Go to the resources!