The Center of Our Solar System- The Sun- Part 2

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SWBAT gather important information about the Sun by using literature and engaging in a discussion about the Sun.

Big Idea

Why is the Sun such an important part of our daily lives and what are the important features of the Sun?

Lesson Overview- 5 E Lesson Plan

5 minutes

Unit 2:Sun-Earth Connection (Solar System)

Lesson 2: The Center of Our Solar System: The Sun- Part 2

5E Lesson Planning:

I plan most of my science lessons using the BSCS 5E Lesson Model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate.For a quick overview of the model, take a look at this video.

I use this lesson model because it peaks the students' interest in the beginning during the "Engage" portion and allows for the students to actively participate in the investigations throughout the subsequent steps. The “Evaluate” component of the 5E Lesson Model can be used in many ways by the teacher and by the students.

A great resource for lesson plan frameworks and explanations is the Community Resources for Science. The 5E Lesson Planning Template and 5E Lesson Planning Prompts come from this website. 

Unit Overview:

In this Unit students will learn about the solar system by studying the sun, the moon, planets and stars. In the first three lessons the students will learn about the Sun. Lessons 4 through 7 focus on the movement of the Earth around the Sun. Lessons 8 is about Orreries, lessons 9 and 10 cover solar eclipses, lessons 11 and 12 are about the moon, lesson 13 discusses the other planets in the Solar System, and the last 3 lessons (14-16) are about stars and constellations.  

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students will begin to explore what the Sun is and what it is made of. It is the second lesson in the unit. I use the book The Sun, by Seymour Simon to introduce the students to our closest star. The NGSS standards may not be directly covered in this lesson, but it's important for the students to have some background information so that they can better understand the specific standards. Learning about the Solar System can be difficult without concrete models and explanations about this abstract topic. This lesson presents good background information for both of the NGSS Standards and one of the Disciplinary Core Ideas described below. 

Next Generation Science Standards:

The NGSS standards are:


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


Represent data in graphical displays to reveal patterns of daily changes in length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky.

Disciplinary Core Ideas:  

This lesson gives background information for the Disciplinary Core Idea of:

ESS1.A: The Universe and Its Stars: Stars range greatly in size and distance from Earth and this can explain their relative brightness.




10 minutes

To introduce students to the Sun, I read the book: The Sun, by Seymour Simon. I tell the students to write down any words that they hear that are unfamiliar to them in their Science Notebooks as well as any questions that come up as I read the book. The unfamiliar words will make up our "Word Wall" for the unit and I will add the questions they ask to our "Unanswered Questions" poster. 

I make sure to also show them the pictures as I read by using my document camera. I let the students know that the book was written in 1986 and that there has been new information discovered about the Sun and Solar System since then. I make sure to give the students time to look at the pictures and I tell them that they can look at the book again during their free time in the class. 

The students are very engaged with the book. It's very quiet in the room and I can hear some positive responses when I show the pictures ("ooh", "ah" and "whoa"). Most of their responses come from when the book describes how far away the Sun, how large it is in comparison to the Earth and the other planets in the Solar System, and what it's made of. Some students though it was just a large fire constantly burning, while others understand it to be a large sphere of gas. After I finish reading the book, the students ask questions about the solar flares and how they affect the Earth and they ask about how hot the Sun is. They also mention the words that were unfamiliar such as the layers of the Sun (core, radiative zone, convective zone, photosphere, chromosphere, and corona). They also want to know what sunspots, solar flares, prominences and magnetic loops are. I write all of these words and question on the "Word Wall" and "Unanswered Questions" poster. 



10 minutes

I then re-read the first section of the book-through the section that describes that the sun has enough Hydrogen to shine for another 5 billion years. The book has no page numbers. After I read this section again, I post some Sun Statements on the board and the students write at the top of a new page of their Science Notebook: "Sun Statements".

There are 8 statements and I have the students write 1-8 on their notebook page. I then explain to them that they need to decide if the statements are True or False and that they will determine this based on what I read to them. They write "T" for True and "F" for False. I also tell them that they should not let their shoulder partner know what they are writing.Sun Statements document

I give the students 2-3 minutes to complete this task and I have them hold up their pencils when they are done. After they have completed their answers, I tell them that they will talk to their shoulder partner using a "Rally Robin" cooperative learning structure and they they will alternate discussing their answers. I tell them that they need to use evidence from what I read to support their answer. I decide that  "Partner A" will go first and that they have 2 minutes to go through their answers. Here are some examples of Student Discussions. In this student Rally Robin, you can hear another partnership also talking about the Sun Statements: Student Discussion 1. In this Second Student Discussion, the "Rally Robin" turned into a "Round Robin" with all 4 students participating.


I used this book, Soaring Through the Universe, Astronomy Through Children's Literature, by Joanne C. Letwinch to help me plan this lesson. She includes these "Sun Statements on page 40 in the book. 


10 minutes

After the students discuss the "Sun Statements", we have a class discussion to find out which statements are "True" and which ones are "False". I pick students from different partnerships to share what they decided.  We agree that the statements are all true except for numbers 2, 4, and 7. 

I then give them a copy of the Sun Statements worksheet to cut out and paste into their notebooks and I explain to them that they need to correct the "False" statements before they glue them in. I tell the students that they can work together to correct the statements in either their partnerships or table groups. I also tell them that they can borrow the book to help. ( It would be a good idea to have multiple copies of the book on had to help with this part- I only had one copy and had to have it passed around to the groups that wanted to borrow it). I also instruct the students to draw anything on their notebook page that will help them remember these facts about the Sun.


20 minutes

To learn more facts about the Sun, I have the students re-read in their textbooks: FOSS Science Resources on pages 146 and 147 and the Nasa article about the Sun. Student reading NASA Article about the Sun. I tell them that I want them to compare these articles to the book I read. I decided to have the students look at some more recent information about the Sun (from NASA) and to also look at what information they my not have read in their textbook. I explain to them that it's good to look at multiple resources when learning about something new. Here are some Students working together and comparing texts.

I ask them to write any other facts they learn about the Sun in their Science Notebooks from reading the articles as well as making a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the book to either the NASA article or their textbook. Here is a student's notebook entry of Sun Statements and Notes.

I have the students then share any new facts they learned about the Sun with their table groups by doing a "Round Robin" cooperative learning strategy. This is done in a group of four students and each student has a number (1,2,3 or 4). I pick one of those numbers for that student to go first and each student will share one thing that they wrote/learned. The "Round Robin" occurs in a clockwise direction around the table and I set a timer for 2 minutes so the students have time to share a few of their facts.

This fact-finding part of the lesson will give the students more information about the Sun and will also help them with the next lesson when we will be creating a model of the Sun.

Throughout the entire lesson I am looking for the students's comprehension of the reading of The Sun  by checking that they were able to figure out which "Sun Statements" were true or false and correctly changing the "False" statements. I also check their Science Notebooks to see the corrected "Sun Statements" and the notes they took after reading the NASA article and textbook.

I also listen in to their "Rally Robin" and "Round Robin" discussions and answer any questions they may have.