Please Ex-Planet!

Activity adapted from activity submitted by Hank Thoenes of Troy, Michigan, public schools

Type of Lesson: Research & Writing Exercise

Time Needed: 4 class periods (more on timing in Notes to the Teacher)

Standards Addressed

MEGOSE ES3 Compare the earth to other planets in terms of supporting life.
MEGOSE ES4 Describe, compare, and explain the motions of planets, moons, and comets in the solar system.
MEGOSE ES8 Explain common observations of the day and night sky.

Quick Summary of Lesson

This activity lets students research a particular planet/moon and then share their findings with the rest of the students in their class.


Windows to the Universe web site
student report sheet (found below)
art supplies needed if students are coloring or creating a model of their planet/moon


1. Place students in groups of 2-3. Assign each group one of the nine planets (or a large moon in the solar system if you have a large class). It would be best if all 9 planets were covered by the groups (even if there isn't as much info on some as others).

2. Have students use the student recording sheet (down below) to research and record information about their respective planets.

3. If there is time, have students create a visual aid for their planet.

4. Have each group present their visual aid and their findings to the class.

Student Activity Sheet

Please click here for student activity sheets. All activities on the Windows to the Universe site may be printed and reproduced if being used for educational purposes.

Notes to the Teacher

Suggested projects for visual aids could include having students draw a picture or make a model of the planet using as much detail as possible. Students should include any special features, accurate color and label any parts of the planet as needed. You could also have students make a sketch, model, costume or skit about an imaginary creature that may live on their planet. The creature's features should show how it has adapted to the conditions present on the planet. The students could describe its food sources, form of locomotion, and daily life. Remind your students that creativity and neatness count.

Suggested timing for this activity is as follows:
Day 1: Group students, have students start research on their planet
Day 2: Have students finish research and start their visual aid
Day 3: Have students finish their visual aid and plan their presentation
Day 4: Have each group give short presentation
Obviously, if you have a very large or very small class (or a very short class period), this will need to be adapted.

Need More Information? Try Using Windows to the Universe

Please use these links for further ideas or more information:
Our solar system
Planetary News
Solar system formation
Solar system pictures

Last modified January 4, 2006 by Jennifer Bergman.
The source of this material is Windows to the Universe, at from the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA). The Website was developed in part with the support of UCAR and NCAR, where it resided from 2000 - 2010. © 2010 National Earth Science Teachers Association. Windows to the Universe® is a registered trademark of NESTA. All Rights Reserved. Site policies and disclaimer.