Day Three of Plaid Pete's Star Lab

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Objective

SWBAT support an argument that differences in the apparent brightness of the sun compared to other stars is due to their relative distances from Earth.

Big Idea

How is the brightness of a star measured? Students sort data to discover patterns between magnitude and distance of various stars from Earth, and use Data Analysis Cards to interpret and communicate their data.

Setting Up the Investigation

This is Day Three of a Four Day Lesson.  Click here for Day One of  Plaid Pete's Star Lab, and here for Day Two of Plaid Pete's Star Lab.

On Day One of this investigation, students engaged in a guided exploration where they learned about the life cycle of a star.  On Day Two, students furthered their understanding of stars by exploring the concept of magnitude and how it is affected by distance.  Today on Day Three, they will consolidate their learning to make a claim supported by evidence that the sun is a star that appears larger and brighter than other stars because it is closer to Earth.  On the final day of Star Lab, students will explore the different patterns of constellations of stars in the night sky created by the rotation of Earth upon its axis.

Connection to The Next Generation Science Standards

In this investigation, students continue the work that will lead them to explore the Disciplinary Core Idea of Earth's Place in the Universe:  The Universe and its Stars -  that the sun is a star that appears larger and brighter than other stars because it's closer, and stars range greatly in their distance from Earth. (5-ESS1-1); Earth and the Solar System - that the orbits of Earth around the sun and of the moon around Earth, together with the rotation of Earth about an axis between its North and South poles, cause observable patterns.  These include day and night; daily changes in the length and direction of shadows; and different positions of the sun, moon, and stars at different times of the day, month, and year. (5-ESS1-2); Motion and Stability:  Forces and Interactions - that the gravitational force of Earth acting on an object near Earth's surface pulls that object towards the planet's center.  (5-PS2-1) and the Crosscutting Concept of Patterns  - Similarities and differences in patterns can be used to sort, classify, communicate and analyze simple rates of change for natural phenomena. (5-ESS1-1); Scale, Proportion, and Quantity - Natural objects exist from the very small to the immensely large (5-ESS1-1); and Cause and Effect - Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified and used to explain change (5-PS2-1).

Please Note:  The Lexile Level for Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe - Lab Scenario Sheet Lesson 8  is 830 (5th Grade Range is 740 - 1010).

The Preparation Time for This Investigation is approximately 15 minutes.   

Materials Needed:

One copy for for each team of the Plaid Pete is Finding Earth’s Place in the Universe Sort Cards - Lesson 9 (copied on cardstock, laminated, cut out and placed in sandwich bags) - These were constructed in the previous lesson.

One Copy of Plaid Pete's - Data Analysis Cards (Constructed in Lesson 9)

One copy for each student of Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe Lab Sheet - Lesson 10

One copy of the Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe Lab Sheet Key - Lesson 10

Students will also need their completed lab sheets from Lesson 9

Day Two

Materials Needed:

One copy for each student of Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe Lab Sheet - Lesson 9

One copy of Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe Lab Sheet Key - Lesson 9

One copy for for each team of the Plaid Pete is Finding Earth’s Place in the Universe Sort Cards - Lesson 9 (copied on cardstock, laminated, cut out and placed in sandwich bags)

One copy for each team of Plaid Pete's Data Analysis Cards (Copy on cardstock, laminate, cut out, and place in sandwich bags.  You will use these again in Lesson 10.)

One small flashlight

One larger flashlight

Day One

Materials Needed:

One copy for each student of Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe - Lab Scenario Sheet - Lesson 8

One copy of Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe Inquiry Charts - Lesson 8 (I copied these in color on 11x17 ledger paper and laminated them)

One set of Plaid Pete is Finding Earth’s Place in the Universe Inquiry Chart Labels - Lesson 8 (I copied these on card stock, cut them out, and laminated them)  

One copy of Plaid Pete is Finding Earth’s Place in the Universe Inquiry Chart Key - Lesson 8

One copy of Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe Word Wall Cards - Lesson 8

One paper copy for each student of Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe Word Wall Cards - Lesson 8

Focus & Motivation

5 minutes

We again review our growing list of "Burning Questions" (Click on the link and go to the Reflection and Closure section of that lesson for a description of how I use this strategy).  Some we are able to provide answers for, and others are still a mystery!  Reading them keeps my students on the lookout for answers as we continue our investigation.

Learning Objective & Success Criteria

Note:  Consistent with the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, I am now including a language objective with each lesson.  These objectives were derived from the Washington State ELP Standards Frameworks that are correlated with the CCSS and the NGSS.

I share the learning objective and success criteria and explain that we will be working on this today and tomorrow - so that they should have achieved these objectives by the end of this series of lessons:  

Learning Objective:  I can support an argument that differences in the apparent brightness of the sun compared to other stars is due to their relative distances from Earth.

Language Objective:  I can analyze and interpret data in order to engage in an argument from evidence.  [ELP.4-5.7]

Success Criteria:  I can correctly complete my lab sheet, analyzing the data, and constructing an argument supported by evidence with my team.

Guided Exploration

20 minutes

Introduce the Task

I tell my students, "Today I have another sorting task for you.  In a moment I am going to hand out the Plaid Pete is Finding Earth’s Place in the Universe Sort Cards - Lesson 9 that you worked with yesterday.  I explain that they may copy the sorts they did yesterday for apparent and absolute magnitude onto their new lab sheet.  Then I tell them, "You will also do a new sort by one measurement of the size of a star - its diameter."  

I draw a circle on the whiteboard and explain that the diameter is the straight line that passes through the center, or widest part of a circle or a sphere.  I draw and label the diameter of the circle.  I tell my students, "If this circle was the sun, it's diameter would be 1,391,684 km, or 864,327.328 miles."  I write the numbers and label the circle as the sun.  I then explain, "One of the ways scientists discuss the size of stars, is to compare them to our sun.  They use the term, 'solar diameter.'  So the sun would be 1 solar diameter.  A star that had a diameter twice as large as the sun would have a solar diameter of 2."

I hand out a copy of Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe Lab Sheet - Lesson 10 to each of my students.  We read the directions for the sort together, and I make sure that each team understands how to do the sort.  I signal my teams to begin, and then I step back, prompting and questioning as necessary.  After yesterday's sorting task, they are more efficient today.  When they have completed the sort I tell them, "It's time to analyze our data."

Data Analysis

I hand out the Plaid Pete's - Data Analysis Cards to each of my teams.  This analysis will be more difficult for them, as they are now comparing 3 sets of data.  I give them a little more time to look for patterns.  Then, I again ask them to choose the 2 best sentences that describe what they have discovered and the conclusions they have made from the data sets.  I ask the team leaders to get a whiteboard and a marker and then have their teams write down the two best sentences to share with the class.  In this Video Clip 1 the team from yesterday has improved in their ability to understand what is being compared.  However, they still need prompting on using the language of Science.  Even though it is May - we are not letting up.  The language of Science is still spoken here!  In this Video Clip 2, this student has also improved in her ability to analyze and describe patterns she has found in data by using the Data Analysis Cards.

I call on each team to present their findings.  In this Video Clip 3 one team presents their revised version, and we work on using specific language about data sets.  Here are a couple of the whiteboards that were shared out:


When teams have finished presenting I tell my students, "In just a bit here I am going to ask you to make a scientific claim and to support it with numerical evidence.  However, before we do that, I would like to share some information with you that will help you understand what is behind the numbers that you just worked with.  Get ready to be amazed!"

Instruction

20 minutes

Share the Video

I share the video from Discovery TV, How the Universe Works:  Star Size Comparison.  I want my students to truly get a visual of how small the sun is in comparison to other stars. This video makes a HUGE impact on my class.  They beg me to play it a second time.  I end up having to write the title on the whiteboard after I share it, because they want to go home and show their families what they viewed today!  This was especially true for my English Language Learners I heard comments such as, "I didn't know that our sun wasn't that big!" This is a touchstone that we will come back to - again and again.  


Writing a Scientific Claim

Up until now, I have been asking my students for claims and evidence.  Today, I am going to stretch their thinking and ask for some reasoning by asking them to explain what that evidence means.  I tell my students, "You have collected some great data over the past two days on your lab sheet.  We call this numerical data - data in the form of numbers. Numerical data makes great evidence.  Numbers are difficult to argue with!  I would like you to take out your lab sheet from yesterday.  I want you to use that lab sheet, as well as the first two pages of today's lab sheet to help you complete the third page of today's lab sheet."  

ask my students to turn to the third page of their lab sheets and we read the question together:  Why does the sun appear larger and brighter than other stars?  I tell my students that their job is to answer that question.  They will do this in the form of a claim in the first box.  In the second box (the evidence box) they will list their evidence.  I point out that they need to have some numerical data for evidence.  Finally, I explain that in the third box, they need to write a reasoning statement that connects their evidence with their claim. I point out the three sentence stems that they may use to get them started.  

This is a very language embedded task, so I ask my students to work together in partners within their teams.  I pair a more capable partner with a less capable partner, and an English Language Learner with a native speaker.  In this way, students have the scaffolds they need to be successful. I tell students, "Check carefully to make sure that your evidence supports your claim, and that your reasoning connects them together.  When we are finished, partners will share out with the class, and the class will provide feedback on your statements."

As partners begin working, I check in to provide support as needed.  I ask early finishers to "try out" their statements with another partner group, before sharing out with the class.  More language practice is better!  I look at my students' work and I see this Example 1, and this Example 2.  They are getting better at supporting their claims with evidence!

Reflection & Closure

25 minutes

Partners Share

When all partners have finished, it is time to begin sharing their claims, evidence, and reasoning statements with the class.  I explain to my students that adding the reasoning portion is new for us.  We have discussed this part before, but I have not asked them for formal, written statements.  I remind them to keep their comments constructive as partners share out.  I remind them that the goal of this part of the lesson is to help each other achieve the goal of constructing a written argument that is supported by evidence.  

When one set of partners shares out, I point to the whiteboard on which I have written the following questions:

  1. Is the claim clear?
  2. Does the evidence support the claim?
  3. Does the reasoning connect the claim to the evidence, and does it make sense?

 

 

If the answer to any of the questions is "No" - then those partners are given the opportunity to revise their statements.  When everyone is finished we give ourselves a big pat on the back for tackling this new challenge!

This is an Example of one student's lab sheet.