Monday, November 16, 2009

Homework Reminder

A reminder that the Planet Project Presentations will be on Wednesday 11/18 and Thursday 11/19. If the Keynote presentations are not FINISHED in class on Monday (today) or Tuesday, then you will need to come to Study Table in Academic Support after school BEFORE your next science class to get it done. I'm including the "Solar System Studies" worksheet on this post in case you need to finish research at home and have lost yours.

Planet Fact Sheet.doc

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Keynote Stuff

Here is the template to use to build your keynote presentation.

I'm also including the example keynote I made about Earth.

Keynote Template.key

Keynote Example Earth.key

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

HW - Pluto Essay Final Draft due 11/12,13

A reminder that the final draft for the Pluto Persuasive Essay is due on 11/12,13 for all students. The essay does not need to be typed, but if it is handwritten is must be neat and legible. Remember to use the basic essay outline presented in class:

Intro paragraph: "Set the scene": provide the reader with a setting of the debate. Tell about the history of the debate starting with Pluto's discovery and culminating with the IAUs 2006 decision. The last sentence in this paragraph should be your thesis statement (your position or claim).

Body paragraphs: To get an A you must include FIVE arguments from the articles and/or the lists we generated in class. Use the links in the previous blog post to find the articles if you've misplaced them. You must write COMMENTARY for each argument (why is the argument important, what does it mean, use metaphors and anecdotes to explain it, etc).

Concluding paragraph that somes it all up and ties back in with your thesis statement.

Get creative and make it an interesting read!

In case you lost it, I'm attaching a copy of the rubric. Use it to check your essay to make sure it is worthy of a good grade.

Good luck!

Challenge Question Peer Review Rubric.doc

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Challenge Question #1 HW 11/9,10

Don't forget the homework due on Monday Nov. 9/Tuesday Nov.10. A first draft of your response to the challenge question "'Pluto should not be labeled as a planet.': Do you agree or disagree." must be completed. Remember, it should be at least a page long and include references to arguments that support or weaken your claim from the two Pluto articles. I'm including both articles and the challenge question worksheet on this post. Remember, your essay should meet each of these criteria.

• 1) Clearly state a position (thesis statement)
• 2) Draw conclusions from evidence.
• 3) Engage the reader.
• 4) Avoid “feelings”.
• 5) Appropriate style, grammar, spelling.
• 6) Demonstrate original thought.
• 7) Have a conclusion.

If you do not have a draft done in class you will receive no credit for this portion of the assignment, and will be asked to use your time writing.

Good luck.


(I couldn't upload the file for the 2nd pluto article, but this is the url for the site where I found it)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Planet Project Research Sites

Use the links under your planet or solar system object to find information to enter into your "Solar System Studies" sheet and to find pictures to use in your presentation. Also, make sure you answer the questions specific to your planet (aka, the "hot topics") which you need for #7 on the worksheet.

MERCURY data charts, pictures, and annoying ads

Mercury Hot Topics:

1) Significant difference in perihelion and aphelion. How much different? What is the percent difference?

2) How does the length of a day (rotational period) on Mercury compare to the length of a year (orbital period)? What would it be like on Earth if we had a similar day/year cycle? About how many months would the sun be out during one day? How does Mercury’s unusual cycle affect surface temperatures? Use the solarviews website to help with this one.

3) Make sure you talk about the unmanned missions to Mercury, Mariner and MESSENGER. Maybe you could show a couple pictures from MESSENGER in your presentation.

VENUS data charts, pictures and annoying ads click the tabs at the top a great animation of Venus rotating that can be downloaded and embedded into keynote

Venus Hot Topics:

1) How does Venus’ atmosphere compare to Earth’s? Gases, pressure, average temperature, etc.

2) There have been several unmanned missions to Venus. One to pay particular attention to would be the Venera missions by the Soviet Union (Russia). They actually landed a robot on the planet and took pictures of the surface. Find some pictures of this and put them in your presentation. What problems did the Venera probes have?

3) What are the two strange thing about Venus’ rotation? One has to do with the rotational direction, one has to do with the day/year cycle.

THE MOON data charts, pictures, and annoying ads click the tabs at the top check out this video taken by a Japanese lunar satellite

1) What causes the phases of the moon?

2) Gotta talk about the Apollo missions, putting man on the moon. Focus on Apollo 11: who went up there, how long was the mission, what did they do, etc.

Here’s one website that has info:

3) There are some great pictures, videos, and diagrams on Wikipedia.

MARS data charts, pictures, and annoying ads click the tabs at the top

Mars Hot Topics:

1) How does Mars’ atmosphere compare to Earth’s? Gases, pressure, average temperature, etc.

2) What is the “Mars Curse”, the “Mars Triangle”, and the “Galactic Ghoul”? Use the universetoday website.

3) Check out this site: or look for others that discuss certain people’s desires to send manned missions to Mars and eventually colonize the planet.


Asteroid Belt Hot Topics:

This is a tough topic as there will be no good answers for many of the worksheet’s questions. Find interesting facts about the asteroid belt and focus on the Dwarf planet Ceres in particular.

1) What do scientists believe caused the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter?

2) How much mass does Ceres have compared to the rest of the asteroid belt? How many asteroid belt objects have actually been found? Does the density of the asteroid belt surprise you?

3) Some other cool asteroids to research and find pictures of would be 951 Gaspra, 243 Ida, and 4 Vesta.

JUPITER data charts, pictures, and annoying ads click the tabs at the top

Jupiter Hot Topics:

1) Some important points: Jupiter’s rings, it’s many moons (don’t focus too much on the 4 big moons, another group is doing that), the Great Red Spot.

2) Jupiter has had a few unmanned missions sent to it. Focus on the Voyager Missions (though, Cassini had some pretty cool flyby pictures) and the upcoming Juno mission.

3) I know it’s wikipedia, but there are some excellent pictures and videos on this site.


The “Jovian Moons” are what we call the moons of Jupiter. In particular, focus on the 4 big ones: Callisto, Europa, Io, and Ganymede. The websites above for Jupiter will help, but here are some more: Sorry for the annoying ads. Cool pictures at wikipedia

Jovian Moons Hot Topics:

1) Why are the big ones called the “Galilean Moons”?

2) Scientists are particularly interested in Europa because of a certain chemical that makes up its surface? What is the chemical and why does it interest scientists?

3) Io is volcanic and spacecraft have taken some pretty neat pictures and videos of volcanoes and lava flows. Find some here:

SATURN data charts, pictures, and annoying ads click the tabs at the top

Saturn Hot Topics:

1) Obviously, you gotta talk about the rings. Who discovered them, what are they made of, etc.

2) Write some info about Saturn’s many moons. Don’t focus too much on Titan, however, as another group is doing that.

3) Many missions have gone to Saturn, but the one with the best pictures is Cassini, a mission which is still active today. Find some cool pictures on wikipedia: and


Titan is the largest of Saturn’s moons, and the largest moon, period, in the solar system. Use the Saturn links above, as well as these below: lots of good info and annoying ads

Titan Hot Topics:

1) Titan has been proposed has a possible location for extraterrestrial life and human colonization. What’s up with that?

2) The Cassini space mission has taken the best pictures of Titan. Find some good ones on wikipedia: and and

3) The Huygens probe was dropped from the Cassini Spacecraft and took pictures of the surface of Titan. Here is an article with pictures.

URANUS data charts, pictures, and annoying ads click the tabs at the top

Uranus Hot Topics:

1) Gotta talk about the rings

2) Uranus had a very strange rotation. What’s up with that?

3) I know it’s wikipedia, but there are some excellent pictures and videos on this site.

NEPTUNE data charts, pictures, and annoying ads click the tabs at the top

Neptune Hot Topics:

1) What was the “Great Dark Spot”? What Happened to it?

2) Neptune has some rings, though they are very faint. Check out Wikipeda for some good pictures, as well as pictures of Neptune’s largest moon, Triton.

PLUTO data charts, pictures, and annoying ads click the tabs at the top

Pluto Hot Topics:

1) Debate about planetary status and the IAU’s 2006 decision

2) It’s moons, in particular, Charon.


1) Some other TNOs in the Kuiper belt to research are Haumea and Makemake.

2) How many objects have scientists actually found in the Kuiper belt. How many do they think there are?

3) Wikipedia has some good pictures, as well as an animation of the pictures used to discover Eris.


You can really talk about whatever comets you want. Halley’s happens to be the most common as it has been passing Earth periodically for thousands of years, so it might be a good one to focus on for the questions. The Oort cloud is a region beyond the Kuiper belt where many astronomers believe many comets originate.

1) What’s the difference between long-period and short-period comets? Check out the sites.

2) Here are some other comets to talk about and find pictures of: Hale-Bop (I remember standing in my backyard to see this one in 1997, it’s a long-period, so none of us will ever see it again L), Hyakutake, Holmes, The Great Comet of 1882, Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, and Shoemaker-Levy (which crashed into Jupiter in 1994 and left scars across its surface)

3) Space probe missions to check out: Giotto (got up close and personal with Halley’s comet in 1986) and Deep Impact (got close and even crashed a probe into Tempel 1.

4) Check out great pictures and animations on Wikipedia: