the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
This is a 12-day cross-curricular unit for upper elementary on Saturn and its rings. It integrates reading, writing, art, and science to provide a multisensory exploration of the structure of Saturn and its place in our Solar System. The language arts focus is on reading and writing nonfiction, with explicit support in reading comprehension and note-taking. The resource provides four booklets customized for the content (both English and Spanish versions), all based on NASA's Cassini mission and Huygens probe data. Each day integrates a science or engineering activity - including a playground model of the Sun, Earth, and Saturn; drawings and sculptures; sketching prototype spacecraft and comparing their models with Cassini; and designing/testing a parachute probe. The package includes detailed lesson plans, pedagogical support, assessments, printable lab notebooks, warm-up questions, and background information.
Editor's Note:The pedagogical basis of this unit is that reading encourages active learning and has much in common with science process skills. The reading skills of visualizing, questioning, and understanding text structures resonate with the science process skills of making inferences, making predictions, and drawing conclusions. However, the booklets are written at a readability level above Grade 5. See Related Materials for a less text-intensive unit on Saturn, also developed by JPL.
JPL, Jet Propulsion Lab, Saturn's moon, Titan, missions, modeling, modeling Saturn, planets, rings of Saturn, solar system, space exploration, space missions
Metadata instance created
November 7, 2012
by Caroline Hall
August 24, 2016
by Lyle Barbato
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
1. The Nature of Science
1A. The Scientific Worldview
3-5: 1A/E2. Science is a process of trying to figure out how the world works by making careful observations and trying to make sense of those observations.
1B. Scientific Inquiry
K-2: 1B/P3. Describing things as accurately as possible is important in science because it enables people to compare their observations with those of others.
3-5: 1B/E1. Scientific investigations may take many different forms, including observing what things are like or what is happening somewhere, collecting specimens for analysis, and doing experiments.
3-5: 1B/E2b. One reason for following directions carefully and for keeping records of one's work is to provide information on what might have caused differences in investigations.
1C. The Scientific Enterprise
K-2: 1C/P1. Everybody can do science and invent things and ideas.
K-2: 1C/P2. In doing science, it is often helpful to work with a team and to share findings with others. All team members should reach their own individual conclusions, however, about what the findings mean.
3-5: 1C/E2. Clear communication is an essential part of doing science. It enables scientists to inform others about their work, expose their ideas to criticism by other scientists, and stay informed about scientific discoveries around the world.
3. The Nature of Technology
3A. Technology and Science
3-5: 3A/E3. Measuring instruments can be used to gather accurate information for making scientific comparisons of objects and events and for designing and constructing things that will work properly.
3-5: 3A/E4. Technology extends the ability of people to change the world: to cut, shape, or put together materials; to move things from one place to another; and to reach farther with their hands, voices, senses, and minds. The changes may be for survival needs such as food, shelter, and defense; for communication and transportation; or to gain knowledge and express ideas.
3B. Design and Systems
3-5: 3B/E2. Even a good design may fail. Sometimes steps can be taken ahead of time to reduce the likelihood of failure, but it cannot be entirely eliminated.
4. The Physical Setting
4A. The Universe
3-5: 4A/E4. The earth is one of several planets that orbit the sun, and the moon orbits around the earth.
6-8: 4A/M3. Nine planets of very different size, composition, and surface features move around the sun in nearly circular orbits. Some planets have a variety of moons and even flat rings of rock and ice particles orbiting around them. Some of these planets and moons show evidence of geologic activity. The earth is orbited by one moon, many artificial satellites, and debris.
11. Common Themes
3-5: 11B/E3. A model of something is similar to, but not exactly like, the thing being modeled. Some models are physically similar to what they are representing, but others are not.
3-5: 11B/E4. Models are very useful for communicating ideas about objects, events, and processes. When using a model to communicate about something, it is important to keep in mind how it is different from the thing being modeled.
K-2: 11D/P1. Things in nature and things people make have very different sizes, weights, ages, and speeds.
12. Habits of Mind
12A. Values and Attitudes
3-5: 12A/E1. Keep clear and accurate records of investigations and observations.
3-5: 12A/E2. Offer reasons for claims and consider reasons suggested by others.
3-5: 12A/E3. Records of observations are helpful when trying to recall those observations later.
12B. Computation and Estimation
3-5: 12B/E3. Judge whether measurements and computations of quantities such as length, weight, or time are reasonable by comparing them to familiar values.
12C. Manipulation and Observation
3-5: 12C/E3. Keep written or electronic records of information so that the records are understandable weeks or months later.
12D. Communication Skills
K-2: 12D/P1. Describe and compare real-world objects in terms of number, shape, texture, size, weight, color, and motion.
3-5: 12D/E2. Make sketches or diagrams to aid in explaining procedures or ideas.
3-5: 12D/E7. Write a clear and accurate description of a real-world object or event.
3-5: 12D/E8. Locate information in print and electronic resources.
12E. Critical-Response Skills
3-5: 12E/E1. Buttress their statements with facts found in books, articles, and databases, and identify the sources used and expect others to do the same.
This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.
Topic: Astronomy Unit Title: Astronomy Resources for the K-8 Classroom
Integrate the language arts and science investigation with this 12-day unit on Saturn and its rings for Grades 3-4. Four digital booklets accompany the unit -- all free (available in English and Spanish). Children will explore size and scale of Saturn, its physical composition, its moons and their characteristics. They will play the role of engineers to design a prototype spacecraft and build a probe that can withstand a fall and float in liquid. It's all turn-key, from detailed lesson plans through assessments.
<a href="http://www.thephysicsfront.org/items/detail.cfm?ID=12465">Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NASA Jet Propulsion Lab: Reading, Writing, and Rings II. Washington: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2004.</a>
NASA Jet Propulsion Lab: Reading, Writing, and Rings II, (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, 2004), <http://saturn-archive.jpl.nasa.gov/education/educationK4Program/educationK4Lit34b/>.
NASA Jet Propulsion Lab: Reading, Writing, and Rings II. (2004). Retrieved January 17, 2017, from National Aeronautics and Space Administration: http://saturn-archive.jpl.nasa.gov/education/educationK4Program/educationK4Lit34b/
Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NASA Jet Propulsion Lab: Reading, Writing, and Rings II. Washington: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2004. http://saturn-archive.jpl.nasa.gov/education/educationK4Program/educationK4Lit34b/ (accessed 17 January 2017).
NASA Jet Propulsion Lab: Reading, Writing, and Rings II. Washington: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2004. Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 17 Jan. 2017 <http://saturn-archive.jpl.nasa.gov/education/educationK4Program/educationK4Lit34b/>.
%T NASA Jet Propulsion Lab: Reading, Writing, and Rings II %D 2004 %I National Aeronautics and Space Administration %C Washington %U http://saturn-archive.jpl.nasa.gov/education/educationK4Program/educationK4Lit34b/ %O application/pdf
%0 Electronic Source %D 2004 %T NASA Jet Propulsion Lab: Reading, Writing, and Rings II %I National Aeronautics and Space Administration %V 2017 %N 17 January 2017 %9 application/pdf %U http://saturn-archive.jpl.nasa.gov/education/educationK4Program/educationK4Lit34b/
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