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Lesson Plans

Life in the Universe Curriculum

The "Life in the Universe" project was created by the SETI Institute in collaboration with NASA and NSF. The goal was to create a supplementary science curriculum for elementary and middle school students. The hands-on activities were designed and tested by teachers. Additionally, this site has samples of downloadable classroom-ready lessons (Adobe Acrobat required). These lessons include:

The Science Detectives This activity for grades 3-4 takes students on the journey of Amelia Spacehart, who is trying to find the source of a radio signal.
The SETI Academy Planet Project
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3

This three volume series is designed for grades 5-6. These activities have students exploring the Earth’s history for clues to life beyond our solar system.
The Search for Life on Venus and Mars For grades 7-8, this activity has students investigating life through different disciplines of science.
Project Haystack: The Search for Life in the Galaxy This hands-on activity for grades 8-9 has students exploring the scale and structure of the Milky Way Galaxy.

The Universe At Your Fingertips

The Universe At Your Fingertips is a key product of Project ASTRO, a national program that links astronomers with classroom teachers. A loose-leaf notebook available for purchase contains exemplary classroom activities selected by teachers and astronomers, a comprehensive resource list and bibliographies, brief background material on astronomical topics, and teaching ideas from experienced educators. This site also contains sample online lessons:

Picture an Astronomer This activity is designed to look at the stereotypes associated with being an astronomer.
Cosmic Calendar Students scale the evolution of the universe into a single year.
Your Astronomy Defense Kit Students discuss the differences between astronomy and astrology.

The Center for Educational Resources (CERES) Project

In collaboration with NASA, faculty at Montana State University and classroom teachers have developed a series of web-based K-12 educational materials for teaching astronomy. Each of the 28 curricular units is based on one of the three themes: Sun-Earth Connection, Search for Origins, and Structure and Evolution of the Universe. Within each unit are multiple lessons that include classroom-ready materials and assessment tools. Some of the units include:

Sky Paths: Studying the Movement of Celestial Objects This is a basic, open-ended observing activity for young children, in which they learn awareness of motions in the day and night sky, and discuss how sky-related myths might have come
Digital Images: From Satellites to the Internet This activity shows middle school students how images are converted into digital bits, and how they can communicate simple information using black and white squares.
Sun's Impact on Earth's Temperature Middle and high school students will use web data to examine planetary temperatures and weather patters, and then test hypotheses about the Sun's effects on planetary climates
Mountain Quest In the Process of Science activity students are divided into research teams to make recommendations for building a new observatory for NASA. Students will evaluate scientific and cultural data for five potential sites in Antarctica, Japan, Chile and the United States and make presentations to a formal review panel.


The Science Education Gateway (SEGway) is part of the Center for Science Education at the Space Sciences Laboratory located at the University of California, Berkeley. It is a national consortium of scientists, museums and educators working to bring teachers and students together with the latest science research. This site has over 20 space science related lessons for the K-12 classroom. Some of these lessons include:

Take a Spin Through the Solar System Students in grades 7-12 use the Web to gather information and images to help determine the rotation rate of bodies in the Solar System
Electromagnetic Radiation on Trial Among some more routine suggestions for investigating radiation at the high school level, there is a gem of an idea: to stage a trial about whether one or more bands of the electro-magnetic spectrum have done more good or more harm for humanity.

Mars Team Online

Sponsored by NASA, the Mars Team Online project allows classrooms to explore the Red Planet. Targeted for middle school students, this site contains a series of educational activities that follow the Mars Pathfinder mission. Some activities include:

Sun, Shadows, Surface Structure, and the Face on Mars Students use modeling clay and a bright light source to explore the kinds of shadow features on another planet might cast, and then examine the shadows on Mars and the infamous “Face on Mars” image to understand what role shadows play in the misinterpretation of such images.
Detecting Magnetic Material in Martian Soils Students will simulate some Pathfinder experiments by devising methods of collecting and measuring magnetic substances in pseudo-Martian soil.
The Incredible Light Bulb-Egg Drop Challenge In this Process of Science activity students will simulate the dropping of the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft on Mars. Using airbags, teams of students are challenged to find a way to drop an egg or light bulb with enough cushioning to prevent it from breaking

Imagine the Universe

This site was created by the Laboratory of High Energy Astrophysics at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. It contains lesson plans for middle and high school. Each lesson covers both mathematical and science standards. Some lessons include:

Cosmic Code In this Process of Science activity middle school students learn about the use of binary numbers in science and technology. They then have the opportunity to decode messages using a binary numbers code.
Time that Period! This lesson examines the idea of periodic behavior and how it is determined from a set of data. Through a hands-on lab that involves a simple, student-made pendulum, students will analyze data received from high-energy satellites of various binary star systems' orbital periods or stellar rotation periods.

The Space Science Education Resource Directory

The Space Science Education Resource Directory is a convenient way to find NASA space science classroom resources. This site allows you to search for lessons and other classroom resources by grade level, subject, or topic.

Thursday's Classroom

An archive of lessons aimed at bringing NASA research into the classroom. These online lessons were prepared by professional educators and scientists.

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