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Middle School    |    Daily Do

How can we tell if a planet is habitable without visiting that planet?

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How can we tell if a planet is habitable without visiting that planet?

Is Lesson Plan Middle School

Sensemaking Checklist

What is Sensemaking?

Sensemaking is actively trying to figure out how the world works (science) or how to design solutions to problems (engineering). Students do science and engineering through the science and engineering practices. Engaging in these practices necessitates that students be part of a learning community to be able to share ideas, evaluate competing ideas, give and receive critique, and reach consensus. Whether this community of learners is made up of classmates or family members, students and adults build and refine science and engineering knowledge together.

Lesson Snapshot

Students analyze and interpret data from our solar system and the TRAPPIST-1 System and look for patterns among the systems that can be used to identify a cause-and-effect relationship between star temperature and habitable zone location. Students engage with text and video to learn that the boundaries of the habitable zone are determined by the highest and lowest temperatures at which water can exist as a liquid.

Students use a model to help explain how TRAPPIST-1 (star) light transmitted through TRAPPIST-1e’s atmosphere and gathered by the James Webb Space Telescope reveals the composition of the atmosphere. Students use gathered evidence and scientific information from NASA-produced articles and videos to construct an explanation of how we can tell if TRAPPIST-1e is habitable without actually visiting that planet.

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Student Materials

Per Pair

Per Small Group (2 to 4 students)

  • Flashlight
  • Red transparent film square (5.0 cm x 5.0 cm)
  • Green transparent film square (5.0 cm x 5.0 cm)
  • Blue transparent film square (5.0 cm x 5.0 cm)
  • Additional colors of transparent film may be used, but are not necessary.
  • Prism may be used but is not necessary.
  • Sheet of white paper (8 ½ in x 11 in)

Teacher Materials

Optional Teacher Resources

Asset 2