Week of May 22 – June 9 The Solar System

TRACKSTAR Web Site “Sizing Up the Solar System”

Trackstar Activity Packet

Astronomy Games QuickLinks


NASA Space Place

Learning Games for Kids – Space Games

Here is a video that we watched in class to explore the basic facts of the Solar System!  You can learn some cool information about each of the 8 planets! Use this video to complete your Interesting Facts chart in your packet. Click on the picture to watch!

our solar system

Check out this link to compare the planets


We have begun our study of the planets in our Solar System.  Earth is one of the eight planets in our solar system as defined by the International Astronomical Union.  In your studies you will learn the current definition of the word planet, and why Pluto is no longer considered a planet, but now rather, a dwarf planet.  Below is a basic outline of what we are studying.  For this unit we will be focusing on the TrackStar web-based activities and the Planet Creation Project.  Links to these sites are under PROJECT RESOURCES on the right aside of this web page.

Outline for The Solar System

  • Planets orbit the Sun at different distances.

Planets have different sizes and distances. Distances – How far from the sun, and its effects on temperatures Orbits – periods of revolution

  • The solar system formed from a swirling cloud of gas and dust.


  • The inner solar system has rocky planets.

The terrestrial planets have rocky crusts. 1. Processes and Surface Features 2. Atmospheres Craters cover the surface of Mercury. Volcanoes shape the surface of Venus. Erosion changes the appearance of Mars. 1. Surface of Mars 2. Gases and Water on Mars

  • The outer solar system has four giant planets.

The gas giants have very deep atmospheres. Jupiter is a world of storms and clouds. Saturn has large rings. Uranus and Neptune are extremely cold.

Birth of the Solar System

 (A National Geographic Video)

If Earth had Rings

Week of May 8 Examining Daylight Hours Across the Globe

Daylight Hours Explorer
This week’s assignment is to explore the following flash application available at this link here. Our goal is to analyze the graph and how the hours of daylight change over the course of year at various latitudes on Earth.

Answer the following questions on separate paper or the answer sheet in your
Chapter 2 Notes packet (page 8 or 10) .

This is to be used as background
for your WORM activity.

WORM LOGO1) Examine the daylight hours over the course of the year for the town of Bourne. Use your internet skills to to determine the latitude of Bourne and then adjust the bar to that degree latitude.

  • When is the longest day of the year?
  • The shortest?
  • What days does Bourne receive 12 hours of daylight?
  • What is the most amount of sunlight Bourne receives?
  • The least?

2) Work with the animation, think about what you are doing, and then answer the questions.

  • At what degree latitude do people begin to experience 24 hours of daylight or night time?
  • Why does this occur on our planet?
  • What happens to the amount of daylight at the North Pole and South Pole (90 degrees North and South)?  Describe why this occurs.

Adjust the latitude to at least two other latitudes.

Make sure one is in the southern hemisphere.

  • After analyzing the graphs, write a conclusion stating how the hours of daylight change as someone travels North or South of the EquatorWhat is the relationship between the following vocabulary terms and concepts?.

Be sure you use the following vocabulary words in your conclusions:







Alternate Activity:

Do two activities:

The Earth and Beyond: Day and Night

Sunrise and Sunset and Day Length


              When you complete the activities and get 4 of 4 questions correct,

print the pages that shows you did it and put your name on it!

Children's university Webpage

Week of May 1 PLAY ORBIT

An At-Home Assignment

Playing the Game – Orbit (Click Below)

Playing the Game - Orbit (Click Below)

Playing the Game – ORBIT

Play the game at home and record as much as you can about the behavior of the orange ball (the comet). Try to send the comet into orbit at different speeds to see what happens and ask how the comet interacts with different objects.

For example:

  • What happens as the ball gets closer to the objects?

  • What happens to the orange ball as the objects get bigger?

  • What happens when there is more than one object?

  • What effect, if any, does the speed of the orange ball have on its path?

  • Write a concluding statement summarizing what you learned.

  • What level did you reach?

Try to make the orange comet stay on the screen for as long as you can!

Click on the link below to get a worksheet you can use to record your observations, or simply write your own notes on a piece of paper.

Orbit Worksheet

Week of April 25 Introduction to Space Science

Welcome to Space Science

We are beginning our study of Space Science, also called Astronomy.  We will begin by exploring the various objects that man finds in the night sky, and try to grasp the size and distance of these objects.   The class will discuss and watch a video on the early space explorations of man.  The week will focus on the topic:

Exploring Space

Look at the objects below in the pictures. We looked at the photos and worked together to try to put them in order to answer:

How Big?

How Far?

How Old?

Try to do these yourself again!

Objects in Space - A Sorting Activity


Incredible Universe Revealed – NOVA video from class
Click here for the Worksheet

Video from Class: The Unfolding Universe

Follow along with the worksheet in your CH 1 Notes packet.



The Known Universe by American Museum of Natural HistoryAmerican Museum of Natural History

Week of April 3 Climate Factors and Climate Essay



See GOOGLE Classroom

(due April 14)

climate zones

We are studying the factors that may affect Climate.



Click on the image above for the Climate Comparison Project guidelines and research pages.   The link to the Notes pages is to the right of this web page under Classroom Notes.

 Climate is the average atmospheric and weather conditions of a location over a long period of time.  We describe Climate in terms of two descriptions –
temperature and precipitation

The temperatures of a location can be affected by any of four factors, as shown below when we used the Smartboard Maps.

World Temperature Map and Climate Factors
World Temperature Map and Climate Factors
Check out this link to Ocean Current Animations:
Remember, the Gulf Stream Ocean Current affects us here on the south side of Cape Cod.  The waters of Nantucket Sound and Buzzards Bay in summer are warmer than the cooler waters of Cape Cod Bay – remember this when you’re headed to the beaches this summer!

The precipitation of a location can be affected by either of two factors, as shown below when we used the Smartboard Maps.

World Precipitation Map and Climate Factors

Note the effects of the Prevailing Winds on the levels of precipitation.  Global winds that blow across ocean areas bring moisture, such as the Trade Winds blowing into the Caribbean Islands and Southeast Asia. When the Trade Winds blow from south Asia onto northern Africa, they blow across land, bringing very dry winds and little rain into the Sahara Desert area.

The Westerlies blow across the North Atlantic Ocean bringing lots of moisture and rain to Ireland, England and Scotland!

Below is a diagram showing the effects of Mountains on the precipitation pattern of a location.

The side of the mountain facing the wind, the windward side, gets much more rain than the dry leeward side.   


Effects of Mountains on Rainfall : Windward & Leeward
Effects of Mountains on Rainfall : Windward & Leeward

Factors Affecting Climate - A Graphic Organizer

Week of March 20 Global and Local Winds

W.O.R.M. in Class on Monday March 27
                  Chapter 2 Test on WINDS  Wednesday March 29
                       Earth’s Atmosphere Unit Exam    Thursday April 6

Below is a lesson on GLOBAL WINDS, presented by a friend who is also a science teacher, Mr. Sean Mussleman.

Here is one of the Venn Word Banks we are doing in class this week. use this as a study guide – know the meanings and explanations of all the terms!

  •  Describe the relationship between Heat, Pressure and Wind

  • How does this relationship affect the formation of winds?  You can describe either local winds or global winds.


Be complete in your descriptions and your naming of the winds.


The Sun heats and cools the land faster than water.  We call this  UNEQUAL HEATING.

This UNEQUAL HEATING causes  differences in pressure.

Differences in pressure cause winds to blow because AIR moves from HIGH PRESSURE to LOW PRESSURE.

Extra Credit – Develop an experiment to do this, and report on your findings. Use science facts and ideas to explain what you did.

Extra Credit - Develop an experiment to do this, and report on your findings. Use science facts and ideas to explain what you did.


Fun Facts about Wind:  Click Here

We have been studying the effects of unequal heating of the Earth’s surface, and the resulting wind patterns these cause.  Land that is heated more directly absorbs more of the sun’s heat through radiation.  The ground touches the air, and through conduction, heats the air – the air becomes less dense which causes it to rise.  This creates an area of lower pressure in the atmosphere.  As the air rises, it cools, becomes more dense, and then falls back to the earth, creating an area of higher pressure.  The movement of the air creates a convection current.


Moving air is called WIND.

Global Winds

The spinning of the Earth causes the winds to bend to the right as they move across the globe.  We call this effect the Coriolis EffectGlobal Winds are winds that move across large areas around the globe. There are three major Global Wind Belts – the Trade Winds, the Westerlies and the Easterlies.  These wind belts are found in both the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres.  There are also areas of calm winds, called the doldrums near the equator, and the Horse Latitudes nearthe 30 degrees latitudes.  See the diagrams below.

Global Wind Belts

Global Winds Diagram

Local Winds

The same convection currents that cause the Global Winds also affect the atmosphere at the local level, especially at the seacoast.  Here on Cape Cod we experience these local winds during the summer.  Cape Cod is kept cool, sort of a natural air-conditioning, by the local sea and land breezes.  The hot summer sun heats the land on Cape, causing the air to rise (low pressure). Cooler descending air from the water (higher pressure) rushes in to take the place of the rising warm air on land, forming a cooling Sea Breeze.  This keeps the Cape comfortable on most summer days.  At night, the land cools down much faster, the warmer ocean water heats the air, causing the air over the water to rise. Cooler air from the land moves in to take the place of the rising are, creating a Land Breeze.

Study the diagram below, and then CLICK on it to see the animation!.

SmartBoard Land and Sea Breezes

Both Global Winds and Local Winds are caused by the unequal heating of the Earth’s surface, creating differences in air temperatures and air pressures.

Air (wind) always moves from HIGH pressure to LOW pressure.

 This Wind’s About to Blow!

Week of March 1 The Electromagnetic Spectrum

This Week’s Lesson

Electromagnetic Spectrum PowerPoint

Class Discussion

The Electromagnetic Spectrum is the entire range of wavelengths that are found in the solar radiation that reaches the earth from the sun.  It consists of many different sizes of waves (wavelengths) that represent different energy levels in the waves.  There are three basic kinds of electromagnetic waves:

Infrared WavesLonger than the red wavelengths

– low energy

Visible Lightthe waves of radiation that we can see


Ultraviolet RadiationShorter than violet wavelengths

– high energy


Week of February 27 Layers of the Atmosphere

…and another music video “Drops of Atmosphere”

We are studying the Layers of the Atmosphere as we start our new unit.  In our graphing lab activity we learned that the temperature of the air definitely changes as we go higher in altitude…but it does not always go down, as you may think!  Each of the layers of the atmosphere is defined by a Change in the Temperature Direction.  The chart below shows the changes as we graphed them in class.

Layers of the Atmosphere

  Remember your Silly Sentence to recall the layers in order:



The Sun Melts The Ice Everyday!

The Aurora Borealis, also know as the Northern Lights, are caused by the sun’s high energy radiation ‘charging’ the air molecules in the Ionosphere, causing them to glow.  This happens near the North and South Poles, as the Electromagnetic Field is less strong at these points.


The Northern Lights are one of nature’s most spectacular visual sights, and in this speeded-up video from National Geographic Videos, they provide a breathtaking display of light, shape, and color over the course of a single night in Norway.

And finally, for some fun, here is the link to the Classroom JigSaw Puzzle we did today…

Atmospheric Layers Jigsaw Puzzle



Week of February 13 Heat Transfer in the Atmosphere

SPECIAL Video Links to Bill Nye the Science Guy

Bill Nye The Science Guy:  On The Atmosphere

Bill Nye The Science Guy: On Heat

We have been studying the ways that heat can be moved form one substance to another…through the three types of Heat Transfer Radiation, Convection and Conduction.  For an animation review of what we did in class,  click on the picture.

Heat Transfer Animations

In the diagram below you can see how each of these types of heat transfer is represented in the picture of the boiling water.  Radiation from the campfire travels through open space to heat the pot.  The pot then conducts the heat through direct contact (touch) to heat the entire pot and handle, as well as the water inside the pot. As the water, a fluid, gains heat energy, the molecules of water become more agitated and move more quickly, becoming less dense.  The warmer water then rises to the top of the pot, where it hits the air, cools, and then contracts to become more dense.  It then sinks to the bottom of the pan, where it is heated once again.  This forms a convection current in the pan.


In the atmosphere, the same three types of Heat Transfer take place…Radiation from the sun heats the ground.  The ground then touches the air, and through this direct contact, conduction, the air is then heated.  As the warm air becomes less dense and molecules move farther apart, the warm air rises through convection. When it reaches the upper levels, the warmer air cools, contracts, becomes denser, and then sinks back to earth.  It then gets heated by the ground one more time, and the repeated actions form convection currents.


Like Jigsaws?  Check this out….click on pic below!

preview35 pieceHeat Transfer in the Atmosphere

Week of February 6 Introducing Earth’s Atmosphere

Earths Atmosphere



In the darkest regions of deep space, the temperature is a chilly -450° Fahrenheit. Closer to our Sun, temperatures reach thousands of degrees Fahrenheit. What makes Earth’s climate so moderate? Separating Earth from the extreme and inhospitable climate of space is a 500-mile-thick cocoon of gases called the atmosphere.

All planets have an atmosphere, a layer of gases that surrounds them. The Sun’s atmosphere is made up of hydrogen, while Earth’s is made up primarily of nitrogen and oxygen. Carbon dioxide, ozone, and other gases are also present. These gases keep our planet warm and protect us from the direct effects of the Sun’s radiation. Without this regulation, Earth could not sustain life.

Today we will start to learn WHY the earth’s atmosphere is so important to life.  We will also discuss the major gases in the atmosphere and learn why each of them is so important.

From here we will then do an online activity called Atmosphere Virtual Lab! You can find this on Google Classroom.

And when you have finished the Atmosphere Virtual Lab  Assignment,

enjoy this music video!

Mr. Parr – AIR!!