• Mark Schober

Astronomy Curriculum Materials -- Middle School

The materials linked below are designed for a one-quarter middle school astronomy module. The materials I've created for a semester-long high school Astronomy and Modern Physics elective are posted on a companion site.

For fourteen years, I worked with incomparable colleagues Hazel Jensen, Jerry Taylor, Bill Brinkhorst, and Jim Roble to develop a robust approach to astronomy in the middle school. We borrowed from Project STAR and NSTA's Project Earth Science among other sources.

Instructional outline - Note: the packet page numbers refer to the three units below, printed out and numbered sequentially. The textbook page references are to Prentice Hall Science Explorer: Astronomy

Unit 1: Sun-Earth-Moon

Key ideas:

Seasons caused by unequal solar radiation striking a round earth on a tilted rotation axis

Phases of the moon caused by seeing different portions of its lit half while orbiting earth

Solar and lunar eclipses result from occasional alignments of Earth, Sun, and Moon

Tides caused by differential gravitational pulls on Earth by the Moon and Sun

Unit 2: Planetary Processes

Key ideas:

Impact cratering and relative dating from photos of astronomical objects

Accretion theory explaining solar system formation with supporting evidence

Scale models for planet sizes and solar system distances

Unit 3: Light and Stars

Key ideas:

Using lenses to form a refracting telescope

Overall star color indicates temperature

Star spectra indicates chemical composition

Planetary Tourism Project – students research a planet or moon and prepare a travel brochure and oral presentation to educate one another about the planet or moon’s interesting features. (Description is at the beginning of the Unit 2 materials.)

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