Exploring Our Solar System a WebQuest created by Ms. Alma Monica Magbual


Ok, crew! Your training is now over. You have studied the solar system in your elementary school science class. You have completed training at NASA, and now you are an official NASA astronaut ready to launch into outer space. Your mission: to discover fascinating information about all of the planets of our solar system. For example, which planet spins backwards compared to the others? Which one is so light it could float in a bathtub if we could find one big enough? What would your age and weight be on Mars? I bet you think Pluto is the farthest planet from the sun...not always! Find out all of this crucial information and more about the planets and report back to mission control in Houston with all of your discoveries. We here on earth are all counting on you...enjoy your mission...ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one...........Blastoff!!!!!! (<---click here to let your "Task" begin.)



On this space mission, you will work in teams of four to "land" on each planet (well, to gather information from the internet!)

First of all, you will need to choose your job titles for your mission:

Crew Captain--will supervise the group and help make any final decisions. Helps decide what jobs each person will do for each project.

Navigator--is responsible for navigating the internet--using the mouse, maneuvering around the websites, etc....

Data Recorder--records all data NEATLY on charts, paper, etc...

Project Engineer--Assists on any data recording and leads any projects that deal with drawing, performing, building, etc...


You will then be researching planets on the internet and recording information on this planet chart that you will print out. You will record each planet's distance from the sun, size, temperature, rotation, revolution, and even your age and weight on each of the planets! (some info will be about the sun, but you'll have to record your data from afar, as it wouldn't be a good idea to actually "land" on the sun!)

You will also need to find out three interesting facts about each planet (make sure to include facts on the Earth and Sun, too) and present your information in one of three ways: a 3-D model of our solar system with facts labeled, an oral report with drawings of the planets, or by performing a play about the planets and sun.

You also will be researching the names of the planets and where they came from. You must provide information on all of the planet names, and then each group member will choose one to draw a picture of the god/goddess that the planet was named after, or read a story to the class about that god/goddess.

At the end of this WebQuest, there will be an evaluation for each group member to fill out about themselves and their group. The teacher will also be filling out an evaluation on the projects presented by the group and how well your group worked together.

Finally, there will be a few "fun" websites to play with that deal with the solar system. Enjoy the rest of your mission. Hold on tight, we are now exiting the earth's atmosphere...proceed to the next part of your trip...the "Process" part of your mission!


In this part of your mission, you will be landing on your planets, investigating them, and recording your data. Have fun and enjoy your exciting adventure into the solar system!

Step 1:

Using some of the following websites, record all needed information about the planets on your planet chart. On a separate piece of paper, record three fun facts about each planet that are not on the chart already.








http://www.nineplanets.org/sol.html ((the sun)

http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/solar_system_level1/sun_facts.html (the sun)

Step 2:

The earth revolves once around the sun approximately every 365 days. This is our "one year." But other planets revolve slower or faster than the earth, making their "one year" come much slower or faster than ours. Find out how old (in earth years) you would be on other planets. This also goes on your planet chart. Choose only one person from the group to record their ages on the chart. Make sure to also look at when your next birthday would be on some of the planets. It's funny to see how long you would have to wait for a birthday party there:


Because of the different sizes and masses of the planets and their different gravitational pull they would have on you, your weight would be different on all of the planets. Explore this website and choose a different person from your group (different from the person who recorded their ages) to record their weight on all of the planets and the sun:



Step 3:

Using the data you recorded on the chart, do one of three projects:

1) Craft a 3-D model of our solar system, labeling each planet and listing three facts about each one on your model.

2) Give an oral report, describing each planet with at least three facts given about each. Show a drawing you have made of each planet as you talk about it. Each person in the group must speak about at least two of the planets.

3) Perform a play about the planets and sun, incorporating your three facts about each into the performance. For example, you could pretend to be four astronauts coming back from your mission, and you are reporting your information to your superiors. Or you could be an extra-terrestrial from each planet, describing what your planet is like to us earthlings. Please use some props and simple costumes in your performance.

Step 4:

Research how the planets got their names and record your data on each planet's name. Then each person in the group will draw a picture of one of the gods/goddesses that the planet was named after, or read a mythology story about that god/goddess. All drawings/stories must be of a different planet name.

Names of the planets:





Fun Stuff (try at least some of these):

The size of our world: (This is great!)



This is a fun calculator for making a model of the solar system to scale (we could not really do this in a classroom!) On the calculator, put the sun in as 1 inch in diameter, then see how far each model planet would have to be from each other:



Some great space photographs from NASA:



Send a space postcard:



Solar System Games from NASA:

Planet Order: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forkids/games/G_Solar_System_Game.html

Unscramble the Words: http://www.ueet.nasa.gov/StudentSite/games/aeronauticsjumble.htm

Tic Tac Toe: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forkids/games/G_Shuttle_Tac_Toe.html



Now you may launch back to Earth and continue with your "Evaluations"...



Great job on your projects, crew members! Now you will need to print out this group evaluation. Here you will evaluate yourself and your group members on how well everyone contributed to your group.


Next, the teacher will evaluate you based on this rubric. You do not need to print this out. But you might want to look at it ahead of time so you know what the teacher expects of you.



Ok.......... here they come in for the landing..........Whew, a smooth one.


As the crew emerges, we are anxious here in Houston to hear about all of the great data collected on this crucial mission. So crew, did you find out which planet spins backwards? Which one would float? How much did you weigh on Mars and how old are you there? And tell us about Pluto...is it always furthest away?


We thank you for your hard work and look forward to your next mission. Maybe on the next shuttle flight you can explore further....beyond our galaxy....to white dwarf stars...to black holes...anything is possible. What would you like to explore next????? Think of three questions you may have about our whole universe, write them down, and let's explore them together as a class. Great mission, crew!


Teacher Page


This WebQuest was designed for approximately grades 3-5. It is a lesson that probably would take about one-two weeks to complete. It was created for a continuing education class about using technology in the classroom.

PA Standards that this lesson covers are:

Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening:

1.1.3., 1.1.5.A-H Learning to Read Independently

1.2.3, 1.2.5.A-C Reading Critically in all Content Areas

1.4.3, 1.4.5.A & B Types of Writing (Narrative and Informational)

1.5.3, 1.5.5.A-G Quality of Writing

1.6.3, 1.6.5.A-F Speaking and Listening

1.8.3, 1.8.5.A-C Research

Science & Technology:

3.1.4.B, D Know models as useful simplifications of objects or processes & using scale

3.4.4.D Describe the composition and structure of the universe and the earth's place in it.

3.7.4.C-E Technological Devices (computer literacy)

Arts & Humanities:

9.1. 3, 9.1.5.A Production, Performance and Exhibition of Theatre and Visual Arts


2.6.3, 2.6.5.A Gather, organize, and display data using a chart




NASA Websites:

Pictures: http://sse.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/gallery.cfm?&Page=23

Games: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forkids/games/index.html


Shuttle Animations: