Grade 6 Science

Subtitle

Just How Big (or Tiny!) Are We?

Earth seems pretty big, right?  Well, on the scale of the universe, we are smaller than a speck of dust in an immeasurably large expanse of emptiness (space).  Need proof?  Check out some of the links and videos below to have your mind blown!


Outcome:

Students will:

  •  Understand that Earth, the Sun and the Moon are part of a solar system that occupies only a tiny part of the known universe.
  • Recognize that the other seven known planets, which revolve around the Sun, have characteristics and surface conditions that are different from Earth; and identify examples of those differences. 

Distance to Mars

Click here to see a visual representation of how far it is from Earth to the Moon, and then to Mars.  Pretty neat stuff, with some neat facts along the way!


See the size comparison to the right:

Earth is on the left, Earth's Moon is bottom right, and Mars is top right.

Curiosity's 1.8-Billion-Pixel Panorama

NASA's Curiosity rover captured its highest-resolution panorama yet of the Martian surface between Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, 2019. A version without the rover contains nearly 1.8 billion pixels; a version with the rover contains nearly 650 million pixels. Both versions are composed of more than 1,000 images that were carefully assembled over the following months.

Compare the Size of The Planets in Our Solar System

Top-left, moving clockwise:

- Jupiter (with its Great Red Spot)

- Saturn (with its rings)

- Neptune (with its Great Dark Spot)

- Venus (yellowish in colour, it rotates in the opposite direction of most other planets)

- Mercury (smallest planet & closest to the Sun)

- Mars (the "Red Planet")

- Earth (Home Sweet Home!)

- Uranus (a lighter blue than Neptune, it appears to "roll" through the solar system)


Where is Pluto?  Besides spending a lot of time at Disneyland, Pluto has been relegated to a dwarf planet: not quite large enough to be considered a proper planet.  Click here for more information from NASA about Pluto.  Click here for an animation of how many dwarf planets might be out there (you'll have to scroll down a bit).


The correct order of the planets, starting withe the closest to the sun:

Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, (asteroid belt,) Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.


This mnemonic might help you remember: My Very Excited Mother Just Served Us Nachos.

A Tour of the Solar System

To Scale: The Solar System

If the Earth was the size of a marble, how big would the solar system be?

The Biggest Stars in the Universe

How big are the biggest stars in the universe?

You might be surprised!

The Size of Space by Neal Agarwal

A comparison of the sizes of objects in the universe: from humans (tiny), all the way up to the entire observable universe (immensely huge, and expanding faster and faster). Click the image, or click here.



Emitting vs. Reflecting Light

Outcome: Students will recognize that the Sun and stars emit the light by which they are seen and that most other bodies in space, including Earth's Moon, planets and their moons, comets, and asteroids, are seen by reflected light.

Stars are one of the few objects in the universe that emit light.  Almost everything else reflects light.


Objects that emit light include:


Objects that reflect light include:
  • moons, planets, asteroids, meteoroids, comets
  • mirrors, water bottles, binders, soccer balls, etc.

Did you know that stars appear to twinkle, while other objects in space, such as asteroids, comets, planets, and moons, do not?  Why do you think that is?

What is a Comet? 
Facts & Info

What is a Comet? 
With Emerald Robinson



The Moon: Our Closest Celestial Neighbour

Outcomes:

Students will:

  • Recognize that the Moon's phases are regular and predictable, and describe the cycle of its phases.
  • Illustrate the phases of the Moon in drawings and by using improvised models. An improvised model might involve such things as a table lamp and a sponge ball (see video below).

Phases of the Moon

Check out this animation of the Moon going through its phases.


Click the image above to zoom in.

Watch the video to the left to learn about the phases of the moon and what each phase is called.


The main phases are:

- New Moon (we see the dark side of the Moon)

- Waxing Crescent Moon (we see a sliver of the moon)

- First Quarter (we see the Moon half lit up)

- Waxing Gibbous Moon most of the moon is lit up)

- Full Moon (we see the light side of the Moon)

- Waning Gibbous Moon most of the moon is lit up but less than a Full Moon)

- Last Quarter ( we see the other half of the Moon lit up)

- Waning Crescent Moon (the Moon is about to become New again)

Click the image above to view a high res image of the Moon.

Lunar Phase Simulator

Click the picture to use the Lunar Phase Simulator to play with the phases of the moon.

- Pay attention to the position of the moon in relation to the sun.

- Notice what the moon looks like from the surface of the earth.

- Know and understand that the phases of the moon repeat, in order, and are predictable.

A Goofy View of the Moon's Phases

A Cool Activity to Try

What About Other Moons in the Solar System?

Outcome: Students will recognize that not only Earth, but other planets, have moons; and identify examples of similarities and differences in the characteristics of those moons. 



There are over 300 moons in the Solar System!


The video to the left answers these questions:


  • Do all the planets have moons?
  • Are they all like Earth's Moon?
  • Is there life on any of the moons?



Constellations

Outcome:

Students will:

  1. Describe the location and movement of individual stars and groups of stars (constellations) as they move through the night sky.
  2. Recognize that the apparent movement of objects in the night sky is regular and predictable, and explain how this apparent movement is related to Earth's rotation.

Watch the videos above to answer some interesting questions:
  • What is the purpose of constellations?
  • Who came up with the constellations?
  • What are the constellations used for?
  • How many constellations are there?
  • What constellations can I see?
  • Can I see all the constellations from home?

More info can be found at Ducksters.com.

Assignment:

  • Choose one of the 88 official constellations.
  • Read about the mythology of the constellation (the story of how it came to be).
  • In your own words, create a Google Doc or Drawing and tell the story of your chosen constellation.

What is an asterism?  Here are some examples.

The stars and constellations above are circumpolar (click to zoom in).  What does that mean?

Here is another example of what they might look like in time lapse.



The Reason for the Seasons

Outcome:

Students will describe seasonal changes in the length of the day and night and in the angle of the Sun above the horizon.

Video: Bill Nye Explains the Seasons


  • The reason for the seasons is simple: the Earth's axis is tilted 23.5 degrees!
  • When the north pole is tilted towards the Sun, we (the northern hemisphere) have summer, and Australia (the southern hemisphere) has winter.
  • When the north pole is tilted away from the Sun, the northern hemisphere has winter, and the southern hemisphere has summer.

Key Terms:



The Sun and How to Safely Observe it (and How NOT to Observe it!)

Outcome:

Students will:

  1. Understand that the Sun should never be viewed directly, nor by use of simple telescopes or filters, and that safe viewing requires appropriate methods and safety precautions.

A webpage dedicated to how to SAFELY look at the Sun (special equipment required!)

How NOT to observe the Sun can be seen in the video above.  NEVER look directly at the Sun, or through a telescope at the Sun.  It may be the LAST thing you ever see.

A pinhole camera is a great way to observe the Sun.  It works great to observe a solar eclipse!




Left:

A video about the fun uses for a pinhole camera.  It's how they enjoyed movies in ancient times!

Shadows and the Apparent Movement of the Sun

Outcome:

Students will:

  1. Construct and use a device for plotting the apparent movement of the Sun over the course of a day; e.g., construct and use a sundial or shadow stick.
  2. Describe seasonal changes in the length of the day and night and in the angle of the Sun above the horizon.

See what a shadow stick is and how it behaves. Why does it do these things?

Here is the "why" for the video to the left.

The apparent movement of the sun across the sky causes the shadow of the stick to move.

  • As the sun moves from East to West, the shadow moves from West to East.
  • When the sun is LOW in the sky, the shadows are LONG. Alternately, when the sun is high in the sky, the shadows are short.
  • If the person who shot the video above to the left did the same experiment in the winter, the shadows would be LONGER because the sun is LOWER  in the sky than it is in summer.

Now, go forth, and share the news of what you have learned!



"Mr. Kerr, What Will We Be Learning in our Sky Science Unit?"

If you've made it this far, then you've probably already learned most, if not all, the outcomes listed below. Congratulations!  Are you ready for your Boss Battle?  Time to prepare.  Scroll back to the top, and make your own copy of the Sky Science Review Questions.  Get your answers here.

Understandings - Topic C: Sky Science 

Students learn about objects in the day and night sky. Through direct observation and research, students learn about the motions and characteristics of stars, moons and planets. Using simple materials, such as balls and beads, students create models and diagrams which they use to explore the relative position and motion of objects in space. As a result of these studies, students move from a simple view of land and sky, to one that recognizes Earth as a sphere in motion within a larger universe. With new understanding, students revisit the topics of seasonal cycles, phases of the Moon and the apparent motion of stars.


General Learner Expectations

Students will:


6-7 Observe, describe and interpret the movement of objects in the sky; and identify pattern and order in these movements.


Specific Learner Expectations

Students will:

  1. Recognize that the Sun and stars emit the light by which they are seen and that most other bodies in space, including Earth's Moon, planets and their moons, comets, and asteroids, are seen by reflected light. 
  2. Describe the location and movement of individual stars and groups of stars (constellations) as they move through the night sky. 
  3. Recognize that the apparent movement of objects in the night sky is regular and predictable, and explain how this apparent movement is related to Earth's rotation. 
  4. Understand that the Sun should never be viewed directly, nor by use of simple telescopes or filters, and that safe viewing requires appropriate methods and safety precautions. 
  5. Construct and use a device for plotting the apparent movement of the Sun over the course of a day; e.g., construct and use a sundial or shadow stick. 
  6. Describe seasonal changes in the length of the day and night and in the angle of the Sun above the horizon. 
  7. Recognize that the Moon's phases are regular and predictable, and describe the cycle of its phases. 
  8. Illustrate the phases of the Moon in drawings and by using improvised models. An improvised model might involve such things as a table lamp and a sponge ball. 
  9. Recognize that the other seven known planets, which revolve around the Sun, have characteristics and surface conditions that are different from Earth; and identify examples of those differences. 
  10. Recognize that not only Earth, but other planets, have moons; and identify examples of similarities and differences in the characteristics of those moons. 
  11. Identify technologies and procedures by which knowledge, about planets and other objects in the night sky, has been gathered.
  12. Understand that Earth, the Sun and the Moon are part of a solar system that occupies only a tiny part of the known universe. 

Sky Science Links

Sky Science Review Questions

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Sky Science Review - Answer Key