What it is: Well, yesterday set me off on a space kick. Today I spent time with the Solar System Scope site, talk about a COOL way to view the solar system! Solar System Scope (SSS) is a 3D real-time look at celestial positions with planets and constellations in the night sky. Students can adjust planet and moon settings, star and constellation settings, earth observatory settings and time settings. View the solar system from a heliocentric, geocentric or panoramic view.
How to integrate Solar System Scope into the classroom: Who would have guessed the day would come when we could take our students on a realistic field trip through space? That is exactly what the Solar System Scope makes possible. For young students, it would be fun to plan a class space mission. Prepare your students as astronauts, load into your classroom spaceship (which may just be chairs and desks specially configured for the day) and prepare for launch. “Fly” through the universe and solar system using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer. This is almost like having a planetarium right in your classroom. Pretty cool!
Of course after traveling through space as a class, students will want to explore more on their own. They can do this at a classroom computer center or individually in a computer lab setting.
Older students can get more in-depth using the built-in distance meter to measure the distance between planets. Each star reveals information about how many light years away it is from earth. Students can adjust the settings to learn more about constellations. Time and date can be adjusted to view the solar system on a given day. When students click the play button, they will see a 3D animation of the solar system based on the view they chose. Very neat!
In addition to using Solar System Scope for science, use it as a launching point for a creative writing activity. Students can write a fictional story about their travels through space, or even pretend to colonize a planet using factual information about the struggles they would have to overcome.
This site is a great one to use in connection with the NASA 50th Anniversary site I shared yesterday!
Tips: Solar System Scope isn’t finished yet, they are still working on some cool features. Be sure to watch for a planetary journey for kids complete with an animated talking guide named Zyx, desktop clocks that show all planet positions at the moment, a space-flight simulator screen saver (perfect for the interactive whiteboard!) and a space forum.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Solar System Scope in your classroom!