My Micrometeorite

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Objective

Students will be able to find their very own micrometeorite for study.

Big Idea

At the end of the day your students can walk home knowing they own their very own micrometeorite.

NGSS Background

This lesson is based on California's Middle School Integrated Model of NGSS.

MS-ESS1-1 Earth's Place in the Universe

PE: MS-ESS1-3 Analyze and Interpret data to determine scale properties of objects in the Solar System.

DCI: ESS1.B Earth and the Solar System - The Solar System consists of the Sun and a collection of objects including planets, their moons, and asteroids that are held in orbit around the Sun by its gravitational pull on them.

SP2: Developing and Using Models - The models in this lesson are the drawings of the eight planets. These models serve a the student's understanding of placement and position in our Solar System. The inner planets need to be modeled correctly by making them seem very small in relation to the Sun and the outer gas giants and they need to be relatively close to the Sun. The outer planets need to be correctly modeled by drawing them large in a decreasing order of size, with Jupiter being the largest and Neptune being smallest. Their distances should be exaggerated in comparison to the inner planets.

CCC: (3) Scale, proportion, and quantity - scale is critical in this lesson. The correct scale of our Solar System must depict the inner planets as small and close to the Sun, while the outer planets are large and spread across greater distances. It is a students misconception to draw the planets at the same size and equally spread across their poster paper.

This lesson is built to follow Solar System Sentence Strip, which gets the students thinking about scale distances in a guided ware are you. The students are tasked with creating a poster of the Solar System which provides accurate colors and scale.

Before the students are allowed to work on their final draft of the poster they first create a rough draft which must be approved by the teacher. An approved rough draft does not need color, but must represent the planets/distances at a correct scale.

This activity provides the students with more freedom to express what they know about planetary distance and scale. Most students can draw the eight planets with details to complete this assignment. The difficulty for students is to correctly model the scale of the solar system - size and distance. The learning for this lesson occurs when the student's rough drafts are rejected and they must reason precisely in order model the inner and the outer planets correctly. 

Set-up

60 minutes

Materials

  1. microscope
  2. dissection tweezers
  3. microscope slide
  4. magnet
  5. sandwich bag
  6. clear tape

Student Directions

  1. Place the magnet inside the sandwich bag and take it outside to a crack or seam in the cement/blacktop.
  2. Run the magnet along the crack or seam in order to pick up iron filings. The bag is in place to prevent the iron filings from sticking directly to the magnet.
  3. Return to the classroom and pull the sandwich bag off the magnet.
  4. Carefully spread the iron filings onto a microscope slide and place the slide under a microscope set to low power.
  5. Look through the microscope until you find an iron filing that appears to be a perfectly round sphere. That is a micrometeorite.
  6. Using the tip of a damp pencil and a strip of clear tape, carefully lift the micrometeorite and stick the tape onto your My Micrometeorite page.
  7. Glue your My Micrometeorite page into your Science Interactive Notebook.

For more information, visit How to Find Micrometeorites.

Student Activity

30 minutes

Micrometeorite dust falls from space by the ton and can be readily found in the soil. The dust is made of iron, which can be detected with a magnet.

Students first need to gather a sampling of iron dust. The stronger the magnets you can provide your students the better. I have my students wrap a sandwich nag around a magnet to help pick up the iron shavings. This only need to take a few minutes. The best place to look for micrometeorites is in the cracks and seems between cement slabs.

 

Once enough iron filings have been found, students will need to separate out the naturally occurring iron from meteorite dust. Because micrometeorite dust falls through the atmosphere it is formed into a sphere. Students examine the iron filing under a microscope and look for perfectly round spheres. These are micrometeorites.

 

Once the students have located a micrometeorite sphere, they carefully pick up the small sphere with the tip of a damp pencil (lick the pencil tip). Static should hold the micrometeorite onto the pencil tip. Carefully transfer the sphere to a piece of clear tape and affix the tape to My Micrometeorite square. You now have your very own micrometeorite sample.

Student Work Sample

I have my students glue their sample into their Science Interactive Notebook and describe five facts about micrometerorites.

Each student had to provide a highlighted number after each fact to make it easy for me to assess. If the students were able to complete the assignment they received a stamp on the page, which makes grading at a later date easier.