Astro-Venture  NASA

Atmospheric Science Training National Standards and Objectives

Click here to download PDF of correlation to California State Standards

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

The Astro-Venture Atmospheric Science Educator Guide has 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-Venture Web site.

In the Atmospheric Science section, students begin as Junior Atmospheric Chemists where they complete the online Atmospheric Science Training module to discover the atmospheric conditions of our solar system that make Earth habitable to humans. When they have successfully completed their training, they earn their certificate and are promoted to Senior Atmospheric Chemist. They then engage in off-line Atmospheric Science lessons to discover why we need the atmospheric conditions identified in Atmosphere Training and are introduced to some basic chemistry concepts. The unit concludes with students connecting their new knowledge to systems they explored in the Astronomy unit and summarizing their learning through the development of superheroes based on elements who save the world by combining their powers to form important gases in the atmosphere.



Atmospheric Science Introduction

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

Atmospheric Science Unit

Unit Concept: The atmosphere helps make Earth habitable to humans by maintaining Earth's surface temperature, protecting life from harmful ultraviolet radiation, providing the necessary amount of pressure, and interacting with our bodies to help us to gain proteins and energy through the process of chemical change.

Overview: Using an online, multimedia module, students change the amounts of gases in our atmosphere and draw conclusions about which factors are necessary for human survival. Students then engage in classroom activities that help them to form an understanding of atoms, elements, and molecules as the components of gases that have unique properties that makes each gas important to human survival. Students further explore the process of chemical change, with a focus on some of the chemical reactions most important to human survival. In contrast, they learn how the inert gas, nitrogen, is important to human life by contributing to our surface pressure. Finally, they connect their learning to the systems they explored in Astronomy.

Standards Alignment

Lesson Main Concept/ Scientific Question Objective Benchmarks/ Standards
1. Atmospheric Science Training Module Certain atmospheric conditions help to support human survival.

What atmospheric conditions are required for human survival?

  • Students make changes to our atmosphere and write descriptive, objective observations of the effects of these changes on Earth.
  • Students will identify the characteristics of our atmosphere that are required to allow for human survival.
NSES: A 5-8 #1
ISTE: 3, 5

Partially meets:
NSES: D 5-8 #1.8

2061: 4B 6-8 #2

2. Building Blocks of Matter All matter is made up of atoms, which are far too small to see directly through a microscope. The atoms of any element are alike but are different from atoms of other elements. Atoms may stick together in well-defined molecules or may be packed together in large arrays. Different arrangements of atoms into groups compose all substances.

What are the building blocks of matter? What are their properties? How do they behave?

  • Students will explain that the atoms of any element are alike and have the same properties and characteristics but are distinct from atoms of other elements.
  • Students will show how atoms can be grouped into molecules.
2061: 4D 6-8 #1

Partially meets:
NSES: B 5-8 #1.3
NSES: B 9-12 #1.1
NSES: B 9-12 #2.2

3. Greenhouse Gases: Carbon Dioxide and Water Vapor Carbon dioxide and water vapor are greenhouse gases that absorb energy radiated from Earth's surface and release some of it back towards the Earth, increasing the surface temperature.

What are greenhouse gases? How do the unique properties of greenhouse gases affect a planet and human life?

  • Students will identify CO2and H2O as greenhouse gases and explain that these gases absorb energy radiated from Earth's surface and release some of it back towards the Earth, increasing the surface temperature.
Partially meets: 2061: 4E 6-8 #3

NSES: B 5-8 #3.1
NSES: B 5-8 #3.2
NCTM: 5, 9

4. The Flow of Matter: Chemical Change and Conservation of Matter When substances interact and new substances are created, chemical change has occurred. Matter is neither created nor destroyed in this process.

What is the process of chemical change? How does this process affect matter?

  • Students will explain how molecules may be broken apart and the atoms reorganized into new molecules that have different properties.
  • Students will demonstrate that when chemical changes occur, matter is transferred but not created or destroyed.
Partially meets: 2061: 4D 6-8 #7
2061: 4D 3-5 #4
NSES: B 5-8 #1.2

NCTM: 4, 5, 9

5. Oxygen, Oxidation, and Combustion Oxygen is a highly reactive element involved in chemical reactions that release heat energy. Oxygen is important to humans because it helps to convert sugars into energy in the cells.

How does oxygen interact with other elements and molecules? How do these unique interactions affect human life?

  • Students identify oxygen as a reactive element that benefits humans by helping to convert sugars into energy in the cells.
  • Students explain combustion as a chemical reaction.
Partially meets: 2061: 4D 6-8 #6
NSES: B 5-8 #3.5

2061: 5C 6-8 #3
NSES: C 5-8 #1.3
NCTM: 4, 5, 9

6. Stratospheric Ozone and Ultraviolet Light The creation and destruction of ozone in the stratosphere protects life on Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

How does ozone protect life on Earth from ultraviolet radiation?

  • Students will explain and diagram how ozone is created and destroyed in the stratosphere due to ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.
  • Students will explain the consequences of overexposure to ultraviolet radiation.
  • Students will explain how certain substances interfere in the ozone creation/destruction process and allow more ultraviolet radiation to strike Earth's surface.
NSES: B 5-8 3.6
NSES: B 5-8 1.1
NSES: F 5-8 1.7
NSES: A 5-8 #1
2061: 6E 6-8 #5
7. Nitrogen: The Effects from Properties versus Amount Nitrogen, like other substances, can have an effect on life because of its unique properties and because of the amount of it in the environment, which contributes to air pressure necessary for life functions.

How do the properties of nitrogen and its amount in the atmosphere affect life on Earth?

  • Students will explain how nitrogen's properties affect life on Earth.
  • Students will explain how the amount of nitrogen in the atmosphere affects life on Earth.
  • Students will explain the difference between effects due to the properties of a gas and effects due to the amount of a gas.
2061: 4D 6-8 #6
NSES: B 5-8 #1.2
ISTE: 3,5
8. Atmospheric Science Conclusion: Summarizing Learning The atmosphere is an important part of the Earth's system, which is composed of several gases that interact with the astronomical, geological, and biological characteristics of Earth's system through chemical reactions to maintain habitable conditions for humans.

How is the Earth's atmosphere important to the Earth system, especially as it supports habitability to humans?

  • Students will draw and explain concept maps that show how the gases in the atmosphere interact with many different systems to support human habitability.
  • Students will write a superhero comic book explaining how superheroes representing elements combine their powers to protect the Earth's habitability.
2061: 4B 6-8 #2
2061: 11A 3-5 #1
2061: 11A 3-5 #2
2061: 11A 6-8 #2
2061: 11A 6-8 #3
NSES: D 5-8 #1.8



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.
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