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
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
||Main Concept/ Scientific Question
|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
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
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
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
- 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
|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
||The creation and destruction of ozone
in the stratosphere protects life on Earth from harmful ultraviolet
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
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
||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
|8. Atmospheric Science Conclusion:
||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
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
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
Go to the resources!