GSA home

Log In | GSA Community | GSA Store | Join GSA | Donate | Contact Us

GSA home

| GSA Community | GSA Store | Donate | Contact Us

About GSA

Connected Community

Divisions &
Associated Societies

Education & Outreach

GSA Foundation




Public Policy


Resources & Jobs


Find Your Science at GSA
Get Acrobat Reader
More Resources
in GeoMart

see "Science
& Teaching Aids"


Space Science

Lesson Plans

Edible Rocks – NASA – Using candy bars, get students to observe and compare textures to those of meteorites. Introduces meteorite terminology and the importance of observational skills.

Space-Time DiscussionTeacher-led discussion that will help students understand starlight, how old it is, and how we learn things about the origins of the universe from it.


Lesson Plan Links

GSA is not responsible for content on web sites linked from our site. However, please contact us if you encounter broken links.

Astronomy Selected Labs and Activities from Earth to Class.
Earth's Magnetic Field - is the focus of the POETRY website, which explores solar storms & how they affect us, space weather, & the Northern Lights. A 64-page workbook of hands-on activities examines Earth's magnetosphere. Create a classroom magnetometer. Solve the space science problem of the week. (NASA)
Seeing the Invisible - offers a guide & workbook to help students discover that the sun emits light in wavelengths outside the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Activities allow students to view unique features of the Sun that are revealed only by certain spectral wavelengths of light. (NASA)
Solar Storms & You - is a series of 6 workbooks on solar activity & sunspots, solar wind, magnetic storms, aurora, & satellite design (Grades 7-9). (NASA)
Imagine the Universe - includes lesson plans on wavelengths & frequencies, sizes of stars, gamma-ray bursts, the binary number system, the probability of life elsewhere in the universe, analyzing images from digital satellite data, measuring periodic behavior, logarithmic plotting & classification of objects by their mathematical behavior, the origin of the elements & their identification in supernova remnants, & identifying elements using spectroscopy. (NASA)
Solar System Exploration - features lesson plans on electro-magnetism, energy, exploration, gravity, pioneers, landforms, life, light, math ratios, matter, measurement, modeling, origin, planet surfaces, rocks & minerals, the scientific method, & triangulation. Classroom & informal learning activities focus on meteorites, comets, the sun, planet change & constancy, the search for life in the solar system, & missions to outer planets. (NASA)
Sky Server Index of teacher guides for SkyServer's science projects.
Powers of Ten Not really a lesson plan per se, but so powerful it has been included under lesson plans. Project to your class and students will be in awe of this exercise.
NASA - "Drawing a Scale Model of the Universe" from NASA's Space Place:
NASA's Deep Impact Mission has a module called Designing Craters in which students model impact cratering. The Deep Impact spacecraft which launched last month is scheduled to impact comet Tempel 1 on July 4, 2005.
MESSENGER Program - Modules contain lessons on the Solar System and our place in space. All of the modules have lessons specifically geared to K-2, 3-4, 5-8, and 9-12 levels. They work well in cooperative groups.
University of Hawai'i at Manoa - The Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology offers more than 25 hands-on science activities are provided in classroom-ready pages for both teachers and students for exploring Earth, the planets, geology, and space sciences.
Destination: Mars - Have you ever thought what it would be like if we lived in outer space? Think about what types of things you will need to survive in space. Will they be similar to what you need to survive here on earth or different?
Lesson plan:
Travel in the Solar System - This lesson affords students the opportunity to think about two aspects of the time required to complete space travel within the solar system.
Martian Microbes? - If there was life on Mars in the past, what would confirm that? How could ancient organisms have come into being? This page includes an activity that demonstrates how cell membranes might have formed, as well as links to other lesson plans and Webcasts about the search for life on Mars, articles about the search for water, and more.
Imagine Yourself on Mars - Exploring the Martian Environment. If you could stand on the surface of Mars, what would you experience? This activity demonstrates the effect of lower atmospheric pressure on water that might exist on Mars. There are also links to instructions on how to make a Martian calendar, how to figure your age and weight on Mars, a Webcast about the Martian environment, and more.
Rambling Red Rover - What tools are aboard the Mars Exploration Rover and what are they searching for? In this activity you can use photos taken by the Rover to make the same 3-D images scientists will use to study the planet's surface. There are also links to information about the Rover's other tools, instructions for making your own 3-D glasses, and more.
Mars Millennium Project Home Page - a national education program in which students design a colony on Mars in the year 2030.
Phases of the Moon - This site has loads of information about moon phases along with a way to retrieve information about what phase the moon was in over 100 years ago. A local teacher used this to have her students look up what phase the moon was in on the day of their birth. They loved it!
Is There Water on Mars? (9-12) - This educator guide has seven activities that can be done in the classroom that will help students deduce whether there is water on Mars.
Live from the Aurora (K-12) - This educator guide includes activities and lesson plans designed to challenge students into further investigating the dynamic nature of the Sun and its connection to the Earth.
Path to Mars - A simple plan from the Discovery School comparing Earth and Mars.
The Martian Sun-Times - by Florence Vaughan and Jeff Benson. Intended for junior high school students and their teachers. Student weather reporters investigate seasons, temperatures and clouds on Mars and compare them to Earth.
Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer (EUVE) Satellite Data Flow Demonstration - by Marlene Wilson and Dennis Biroscak. Intended for use by 4th-12th grade students who have ball-throwing and ball-catching skills. This is a hands-on demonstration of the communication path between the EUVE satellite and a scientist on Earth.
Auroras: Paintings in the Sky - by Mish Denlinger. Intended for 6th-12th graders An introduction to auroras and the processes that create these mysterious lights.
Take a Spin Through the Solar System - Original concept and authoring by Kevin McCarron and Ginger Privat with additional authoring by Nellie Levine (aka N. Levandovsky.) Intended for middle and high school students and their teachers. Have you noticed how many things around you rotate? In this unit we are going to measure and investigate rotation rates of different planets, and even the Sun. We will base our research on the images and textual information found on the Internet.
Find That Planet! - by Alan Gould. For middle and high school students. Make a horizon planetarium to find the locations of planets in the sky. High School students can use position data to make a sky map.
Eyes in the Sky - by Bryan Yager. Intended for 6-8 graders. This lesson plan shows how middle school students who are taking industrial technology classes use technology to learn about orbiting spacecraft designed to study astronomical objects.
Space Explorers - This is a private firm that provides authentic experiences for students at a cost. The site does offer a free lesson on the scale of the solar system that would be an excellent activity for grades 6-9.
Exploring Planets in the Classroom - More than 25 hands-on activities from the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium are provided in classroom-ready pages for both teachers and students for exploring Earth, the planets, geology, and space sciences.
Space Science Activities, Hawaiian Style - mostly demonstrations, some lesson plans.
Measuring Stellar Temperatures: How Hot Is That Star? - by Jim Meunier and Jim Lehman. For middle school students. This multi-part module uses the Sun as a first example to illustrate how astronomers measure temperature using a star's spectrum.
Classifying Galaxies - by George and Jane Hastings. For middle school students. Learn to identify and classify galaxies the way astronomers do. Then go to the Hubble Space Telescope Institute for more advanced study. Need internet access for all.
Life on Mars: Science Fact or Science Fiction? (Grades to 6-8, 9-12) - Investigating and Evaluating the Possibility of Life on Other Planets. In this lesson, students investigate the basic requirements needed for human survival and contemplate the possibility of sustaining life on other planets, as is being researched by the recently-launch20 April, 2010 activity, students work in small groups to create a chart and a graph comparing statistics of the nine planets in the solar system and evaluating the elements that prevent life from flourishing on other planets.
A Whole New World (Grades to 6-8, 9-12) - Investigating Direct Evidence of an Extrasolar Planet and the Sustenance of Life on Different Worlds. In this lesson, students explore the significance of direct scientific evidence of an extrasolar planet, focusing on the relationship of this new discovery to the notion of survival of living things on other planets. S tudents work in small groups to investigate statistics regarding the nine planets in the solar system and participate in a 'scientific conference' to examine the elements that allow or prevent life from flourishing on other planets. Students then explor e the available information about the extrasolar planet and assess the importance of this astronomical find.
Look on the Bright Side! (Grades to 6-8, 9-12) - Making Models of Solar Eclipses and Building Pinhole Projectors. In this lesson, students learn about solar eclipses by participating in a number of hands-on activities. In class, students work in teams using tennis balls, grapes and flashlights to model partial and total solar ecli pses. At home, students build pinhole projectors and experiment with how they work.
The Space Place - Lots of fun things to make and do from NASA, some teacher activities.
Graphing Sunspot Cycles - The student will be able to determine existing patterns in sunspot numbers. The student will be able to plot sunspot numbers to determine these relationships. The student will be able to use these relationships to determine the approximate number of sunspots for a year in the near future.
Lunar Lollipops - After completing this activity students should understand that the observed phase of the Moon is determined by the Moon's position relative to the Earth and Sun.
Please Ex-Planet! - This activity lets students research a particular planet and then share their findings with the rest of the students in their class. Need internet access.
The Magnetometer - Students will build an instrument capable of detecting a magnetic field and magnetic polarity.
Plotting Sunspot Activity - Students will learn how to graph sunspots, also called active regions (AR's), on the Sun using a solar graph. They then can make generalizations about where sunspots usually occur on the Sun.
Charting the Planets - NASA Educational Brief - Learning to use a chart of data can be helpful in several ways. First, a chart can provide an orderly list of individual facts. A second way to use a chart is to look for trends and patterns in the data. Learn about these in this lesson.
Galileo Curriculum Module - The Galileo spacecraft, after a 6-year journey, arrived at Jupiter in December, 1995, and began a tour of the planet and its system of moons. "Let us help you and your students understand and appreciate WHY we're going and WHAT we hope to learn there."
Solar System Puzzle Kit - Comprehensive activity in which students make an eight cube version of the solar system.
Space Based Astronomy Teacher's Guide - Activities, experiments, and readings dealing with NASA's space based astronomy.
The Sun Times - Global Temperature Project - Join schools from around the world as they try to figure out how their geographic location (i.e. where they live) affects their average daily temperature and hours of sunlight. Specifically, students will: * Measure the temperature and record the number of minutes of sunlight per day over a common week. Compare and contrast the results with classes from all over the world. Determine how proximity to the equator affects average daily temperature and hours of sunlight.
Asteroid Watch: Fireball in the Sky - This CIESE collaborative project which asks students to determine the consequences of objects from space striking the earth by studying impact craters. The culmination of the project is to find actual asteroids and determine whether they are a threat or not. (Recommended Grade Levels 5-12 but all are invited to participate).


Return to K-12 Teacher Resources