9-12 > Physical Science
 Grade level: 9-12 Subject: Physical Science Duration: One class period
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Students will understand the following:
 1 The relative sizes of bodies in our solar system affect life on Earth. 2 Using mathematical proportions, we can create scale models of parts of our solar system. 3 Making a scale model of the entire solar system is problematic because the distances in space are so great that even a very small scale model would be too large to be practical.

The entire class will require research materials on the solar system, in addition to a computer with Internet access to aid their research. The following materials should be distributed to each group:
 • Modeling clay • Ruler • Marble • String

 1 Tell your students that during Apollo missions to the moon in the 1960s and ’70s, astronauts placed a mirror on the surface of the moon so that precise Earth-to-moon distances could be measured. By reflecting a laser beam from Earth off the mirror, researchers on Earth could observe the beam’s round trip time, and the distance to the moon could be calculated to within a centimeter. Now your students will use those measurements to create their own scale models of the Earth-moon system. 2 Divide your class into groups, distributing materials to each group. Either have students obtain the following information through research or provide the information for them: the diameter of the moon is 3,476 kilometers, the diameter of Earth is 12,734 kilometers, and the average distance of Earth from the moon (it changes slightly over time) is 384,000 kilometers. 3 Explain that the marble will represent the moon. Then challenge groups to come up with a method for (a) using the materials they have and the information they have obtained or been given to determine how large to make a model of Earth, using the modeling clay, and (b) using the same materials and information to determine how far to place the model moon from the model Earth to create a scale model of the Earth-moon system. 4 Students should come up with the following methods:(a) Use the string to measure the circumference of the marble; measure the string; use the equation C =pD to obtain the diameter of the marble; use the actual diameters of the moon and Earth to obtain a scale; apply that scale to the diameter of the marble to arrive at the diameter of the clay model of Earth.(b) Apply the same scale to the actual average distance of Earth from the moon to obtain the distance to use in the model of the Earth-moon system. 5 Allow time for students to create their scale models of the Earth-moon system. 6 When the groups have completed their models, discuss, as a class, how the distance between the moon and Earth affects life on Earth. (One example is that a slight change in the moon’s proximity can greatly affect Earth’s tides.) 7 Discuss why it is so difficult to create an entire solar system model that takes into account the sizes of the planets, their distances from the sun, and their distances from each other.

 Younger students will need help figuring out how to determine the size of the clay Earth model and the model Earth-to-moon distance.

 1 Hypothesize as to why you think the ostrich, which is a bird, is not able to fly. What other flightless birds, living or extinct, have similar physiology? 2 Debate whether a bumblebee or a hawk would fly the fastest. Under what conditions would each be the better flier? 3 Explain why, when relative proportions are considered, humans are stronger than elephants, and ants are stronger than humans. 4 Discuss the reasons why a smaller, shorter athlete might have to work harder than his or her larger peers to succeed. Now, discuss the reasons why this athlete might not have to work as hard at the same sport as the larger peers. 5 Like the home you live in, a skyscraper is a place where people live and work. Describe all the systems that must be included in a skyscraper to make it a livable workspace. How are these systems different in a skyscraper as compared with a conventional building? 6 What are the advantages and disadvantages to building very tall structures? Do the physical and social costs of skyscrapers outweigh the benefits? State your reasoning. 7 On the scale of the solar system, debate the significance of planet Earth. 8 To see Peoria’s solar system model all at once, you’d need to be in an airplane. How much of the real solar system is visible at one time from your location? Describe the factors that influence how much of it you can see at any given time.

 You can evaluate groups on their models using the following three-point rubric: Three points:groups develop successful plans for determining scale, size, and distance; model accurately constructed to scale  Two points:groups need help developing plans for determining scale, size, and distance; model accurately constructed to scale  One point:group unable to develop plan for determining scale, size, and distance; model inaccurately constructed

 Scale of Flight Monarch butterflies are known for the great distances of their migration flights. How do these tiny, lightweight fliers succeed? Divide the class into groups of three students. Have each student outline on notebook paper and cut out a shape approximating that of a monarch butterfly with its wings spread. Instruct students to tape an open paper clip in the center to represent the body weight. Each student per group will do one of three experiments (repeating it five times) as the data is captured on a group record sheet. These trials include (1) dropping the butterfly from shoulder height, (2) dropping the butterfly from shoulder height while standing in front of a fan, and (3) dropping a wet (splashed with water) “butterfly” from shoulder height. The height from which the “b;tterfly” is dropped should be accurately measured and recorded. Data from each group should be averaged and added to a class data set posted on the board. Have students graph the experimental results, and then have a class discussion about what the data tell us about butterfly flight. What factors other than wing beating could affect butterfly flight? Being the Right Size Divide students into groups of four and give each student a different-sized and different-colored lump of modeling clay. Each student is to create a freestanding, four-legged animal from the clay only. Students are challenged to have their animals display realistic body proportions and to make them as tall as possible without falling over. At the completion of animal construction, each group should summarize for the class its conclusions about designing the “right-sized” animal. Skyscrapers Using the Internet, CD-ROMs, and traditional library resources, have students research the design and construction of a famous high-rise structure. A list of skyscraper projects, completed and under construction, can be found atInformation Please. Have students present their findings to the class by relaying information on the height, time to complete, amounts of materials, and overall cost of the skyscraper project. Presentations can include visual models, drawings, PowerPoint presentations, Web pages, or trifold (cardboard) representations of students’ findings. Students can form cooperative groups to conduct research and present information.

 Petronas Twin Towers Information and facts on the soon-to-be world’s largest building, to be located in Malaysia. Journey of a Lifetime: Magnificent Skyscrapers An overview of the tallest buildings in the world with an Architectural Hall of Fame and interesting details about skyscrapers. New York Sky Scrapers Facts and figures dedicated to the New York’s most famous skyscrapers are the essence of this site. An Overview of the Solar System A good overview of the Solar System that relates to the scale and magnitude of the system. Size and Scale Activity An activity for students that explains the scale of the solar system.

 Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence. Definition:An upward force that opposes the pull of gravity. Context:Rockets could not go up without the energy and upward force of lift. Definition:Moving tissues that connect the ventral walls of the chest with the bones of the upper arm and shoulder. Context:He wore an armor breastplate to protect his pectoralis muscles during battle. Definition:A branch of biology that deals with the functions and activities of life or of living matter (as organs, tissues, or cells) and of the physical and chemical phenomena involved. Context:Physiology is anatomy at work. Definition:Whirlpools or eddies in a fluid such as wind. Context:The thistle down spun in a circle in midair as it was caught by the wind’s vortices. Definition:A fundamental physical force that is responsible for interactions that occur because of mass between objects. Context:The force of gravity made it hard to lift the heavy box and easy to drop it. Definition:A ratio—the relation of one part to another or to a whole. Context:A high proportion of his wages was used to pay rent while a small proportion was used to buy food. Definition:The amount of space occupied by a three-dimensional object as measured in cubic units. Context:The volume of the crowd was too great to fit any more people inside the room. Definition:Pipes, tubes, or tiles that are part of a building’s design used for protecting electric wires or cables, plumbing, or other aspects of building construction. Context:The systems engineer designs all the conduits take make the building a place where people can live and work, such as plumbing, water, and air conditioning. Definition:Having great skill at solving problems or inventing things. Context:Skyscrapers have come to symbolize the ingenuity and excesses of our modern technological culture. Definition:The average distance of separation between the sun and Earth. Context:One astronomical unit is equal to 93 million miles. It takes light a little over eight minutes to travel this distance. Definition:The distance light travels in one year; equivalent to approximately 5.87 trillion miles. Context:Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. Multiply this speed by the number of seconds in a minute, times the number of minutes in an hour, times the number of hours in a day, times the number of days in a year. The result is roughly 6 trillion miles. That distance is what astronomers call a light year.