Introductory Lesson: “Planets with a Plan”
Students will be able to:
1. Begin to understand God’s awesome and sovereign hand in the creation of the Solar system.
2. Work cooperatively in a collaborative setting.
3. Gain and search for knowledge using the Solar System Learning Center.
LCD computer projector (to project on gym wall)
Music segment from movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”
Large mounted audio speakers
Overhead transparencies of: “Earth and Stars”, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”, and “Let all Things now Living”
“Starlab” interactive planetarium (will need to be set up before session)
Finger Jell-O snacks in shapes of stars and moons and Tang drink.
Expected Time Needed for Lesson:
Two 60-90 min. sessions with a break between sessions will be needed. This kickoff will take place in the morning, soon after school has started.
Session 1: (90 min.) – Introduction: Kickoff event in gym
a) (10 min.) As the students enter the gym, the middle school teachers who are taking part in this unit will greet the students as they enter to the music from the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. Seat the seventh grade class in semi-circle rows facing a large screen that will have in large colorful letters projected “Planets with a Plan”.
b) (20 min.) The Bible teacher will welcome the students and start the morning session with a time of devotions, emphasizing God’s awesome hand in the creation of the Earth and heavenly bodies, including readings from Psalm 19, Psalm 136:1-9 and Psalm 148:1-5. Explain to the students that this two-week unit will be a learning experience that will help to celebrate God’s sovereign hand in our Solar System.
c) (20 min.) The Art teacher will project Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night onto the Gym wall. Introduce the unit-long mural project that will be painted on the theme “Planets with a Plan”. Include time for brainstorming and writing down ideas for what to paint on the mural. Teachers will write the list of brainstorming ideas on a large pad of paper. They will later hang the paper on the classroom walls as a reminder. Have a time to pray for the Spirit’s leading in this process.
d) (20 min.) The English teacher will play a short audio or video clip of The War of the Worlds radio broadcast in 1938. Introduce and discuss the language arts theme of the public hysteria that resulted from this broadcast.
e) (20 min.) All teachers will break students into groups in the gym. Students will be representing the planets. Each planet will have different numbers of students correlating with the relative size of each planet. Then take the class outside to the ball field to create this human, scale model of our solar system: Designate students to represent a planet, or moon of a planet, and send them to predetermined spots outside on the field. Each group should hold hands and form a rotating circle. The designated spots would be spread apart, to scale, to demonstrate the large distances between the planets and the Sun.
Break: (15 min.) Enjoy a time of moon and stars finger Jell-O and every astronaut’s favorite drink, Tang. During the Juice n' Gelatin break, a teacher-led large group discussion could begin with open-ended questions like, "What shapes and patterns do we see in this system? What holds it together? What would happen if a given planet were closer or farther from the sun? How did it all begin?"
Session 2: (60-90min.)
a) (10 min.) Math teacher will introduce the first math POW (problem of the week). Project the first week’s problem on the wall and explain how they will be integrated and worked on throughout the unit.
b) (15 min.) Introduce the “Planets with a Plan” Learning Center. Draw the students’ attention to the learning center. Ask students "When you look at the learning center what grabs your attention?" Project the NASA interactive CD-ROM on the gym wall. Give students a chance for input on the learning center. Ask them what they like, don’t like, or what they would change about the center.
c) (30 min.) Science teacher will introduce the astronomy aspect of the unit by unveiling the Starlab. Hear a brief presentation from a representative of the DNR. Split the class into 3 equal groups and take the kids through the inflatable structure. While the groups wait their turn to go through the Starlab, the DNR representative will give more information about the Starlab and make time to answer any questions.
d) OR the “Sunspotter”(if Starlab is not available)
Sunspotter gives students the opportunity to track sunspots as they appear, move, and vanish. A bright three-inch solar image is projected in all of its glory by a powerful 62mm diameter objective lens. Students can easily trace the face of the sun and compare it from hour to hour and day to day. This unique, wooden, folded-Keplerian telescope provides a much safer and convenient way to view the light of the sun, compared to more common methods. By using a series of mirrors, the device projects an image of the sun onto a white viewing screen.
Closure: (15 min.)
Music teacher will bring students back to the side of the gym where they can sit in their semi-circle in front of the big screen. Project on the screen the words to, and sing with piano accompaniment, “Earth and Stars”, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”, and “Let all Things now Living”
Have a time of prayer, centering on the upcoming days of study. A select number of student musicians from the school band will accompany the pianist during the playing of these songs.
Evaluation: (10 min.)
An informal evaluation of the students will take place based on their participation and cooperation throughout the kickoff event.