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. On Day Three, they consolidated 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. Today, 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.
In this investigation, students complete 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.
One copy for each student of NASA/Amazing Space Student Background Reading: About Constellations.
One copy for each student of Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe Lab Sheet - Lesson 11
One copy for each team of Plaid Pete's Star Log - Lesson 11
One copy for each team of Plaid Pete's - Data Analysis Cards
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
Students will also need their completed lab sheets from Lesson 9
One copy for each student of Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe Lab Sheet - 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
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 paper copy for each student of Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe Word Wall Cards - Lesson 8
We review our list of "Burning Questions." I am getting the sense that their questions are as immense as the universe - but this is a good thing! Questions will propel our learning forward!
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 make an argument supported by evidence that the observable patterns of the different positions of the stars at different times of the year, explains Earth's movement.
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.
I tell my students, "Previously, we have looked at individual stars - their magnitude, diameter, and distance from Earth. Today, we are going to be looking at the patterns in the sky that are made by groups of stars. These patterns, and the area they occupy - are called constellations. We are going to study constellations today, because they can give us some more clues about Earth's movement." I pass out one copy to each of my students of the NASA Amazing Space/Student Background Reading: About Constellations. We read through this document together, as it provides a good overview of what a constellation is and how they came into being. I know that many of my students will not have this background information.
I also know that my students will have a difficult time picturing the different constellations presented, so I go to the Top Astronomers website, and project some of the constellations so that they can get a general idea. In addition, I want to show them some of the constellations that they will be tracking on Plaid Pete's Star Logs in the next activity. I project the constellation Orion to show them first, as this is the first constellation they will track on their sheets. I point out the stars Rigel and Betelgeuse - names that they are already familiar with from their previous sorting activities. I also share some of the reading about the mythology behind Orion.
Next, I share Ursa Major. Although they won't be tracking it on their Star Log sheets, every child should know the story behind "The Big Dipper." This is also a good opportunity to reinforce the concept of what an asterism is. I then share Ursa Minor, and point out the North Star - Polaris. They will be tracking Ursa Minor on their sheets. I share a bit of the mythology for each of these.
I share Canis Major, and point out Sirius - the dog star. I share the information about the mythology behind this constellation. I also remind them about the red giant, VY Canis Majoris (one of the largest known stars) that we learned about in a previous lesson. I explain that this star is a part of the Canis Major constellation. This is one of the constellations they will be tracking.
I point out the constellation Cancer, and share a bit about the mythology behind this star. This is one they will track. Finally, I share the constellation of Hercules and a bit of the mythology behind it. This is the last constellation they will track.
Introduce the Task
I tell my students, "Today I have a new task for you." I hand out Plaid Pete's Star Log - Lesson 11. I say, "These are pictures that Plaid Pete took of the Seattle Sky for a six month time period from January through June. He took these pictures of the night sky on the same day every month, the 15th, at the exact same time - 9:00 p.m., and from the exact same place. Before you begin to answer questions on your lab sheet, you will need some way of referencing the location of constellations on the pictures."
I demonstrate how to create a grid system, separating each picture of the Star Logs into 4 quadrants, using the Cardinal direction labels listed at the top and sides. Then, I demonstrate how to label the upper quadrants (left to right) as Q1 and Q2, and the lower quadrants (left to right) as Q3 and Q4. students use a small Post-It Note to do this.
I tell my students, "Today, You will be answering the prompts on your lab sheet, based on this data, which is in the form of pictures." I pass out a copy of Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe Lab Sheet - Lesson 11 to each of my students. We go over the questions to make sure that they understand the prompts. I point out the question at the bottom of the lab sheet on the first page and tell that that it is very important that before they go on to the Data Analysis on the second page, that they answer the question: What direction do the constellations appear to be moving? In this Video Clip 1 this team is working month by month, noting where each constellation is within the quadrant grid they have set up. In this Video Clip 2, the constellations aren't quite where this team expected them to be, but they are learning to trust the data!
Before my students move on to the Data Analysis - I call my class to attention. I ask the question, "Did the stars and constellations in the night sky stay in the same spot?" I call on several students to comment. When they answer no - I ask them to provide specific evidence for their answer. This question gets at a common misconception that 5th Graders have - that the stars and constellations appear in the same place in the sky every night. In order for them to understand the idea that the changing patterns of the constellations provide evidence for Earth's rotation on its axis - I have to make certain that they have internalized this concept before we move forward.
When students have shown me that they have answered the question at the bottom of the first page of the lab sheet: What direction do the constellations appear to be moving?, I give the team a set of Plaid Pete's - Data Analysis Cards. Teams work together to use these cards to analyze the data that they have been presented. I add another 2 sentence stems to the whiteboard for them to use:
The data from the Star Logs, along with the data from ______ seem to suggest that _____.
Looking at the data collected from _____ and ______, one conclusion we can draw about _____ is _____.
I am now pushing them to consolidate their learning over several investigations and to look at multiple data sets. This is a very cognitively complex task for 5th Grade students. As students are working, it requires me to go to teams and prompt them to physically open their Science Notebooks and get out their lab sheets from previous investigations. If they don't have a visual reminder of what they have done before, they won't use it.
I particularly want students to see that the constellations are moving from east to west, as the Earth rotates from west to east. I have the inflatable globe with me as I move from team to team. They need a "hands-on", visual reminder to understand this information as it can be confusing. My students are greatly benefitting from the sharing out of each team's statements, so I again have them write 2 statements using the Data Analysis Cards on a whiteboard and share out. Video Clip 3 is one team's contribution. In Video Clip 4, this team is working on constructing statements with precision, and makes revisions to do just that.
I ask my students, "Last time when we needed expert information about stars, where did we go?" One of my students correctly responds that we asked an expert - an astronomer. I tell them that today we will do just that. I play the podcast Ask An Astronomer: Do The Stars Really Move? from astrospacenow.com.
I say, "Now that we have an explanation of why the stars appear differently in the night sky. You are ready to make a claim in response to a question. You also have the evidence to support that claim. You may use evidence from this investigation, as well as previous investigations to assist you."
Writing a Scientific Claim
Note: I am using a writing period for this section of the lesson. We are working on Writing across content areas.
I ask my students to turn to the third page of their lab sheets and we read the question together: Why do the constellations change position in the night sky? 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 again remind them that they may use evidence from previous investigations to assist them. 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.
Again, this is a very language embedded task, so I ask my students to work together in partners within their teams. I have also used my previous strategy of pairing students with stronger language skills with those whose skills are not as well developed. I remind my 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! Student Lab Sheets look like this Example 1 and this Example 2.
When all partners have finished, we share their claims, evidence, and reasoning statements with the class - just as we did before. This time, my students are better prepared for the process. I again remind them to keep their comments constructive as partners share out, reminding 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:
When everyone is finished we give ourselves a big pat on the back for improving over our last performance. Students' claims were better supported and their reasoning demonstrated increased clarity. I compliment them for a job well done!
This is an Example of one student's lab sheet.