Flipped Classroom Lesson Plan

Authors: Andrew Snyder, Jared Gliem, Austin Tolan

Lesson Title: Exploring the Solar System: Moon, Sun, Earth

Subject Area: Science

Grade Level: 5-8

Time Needed: 2-3 class periods for Moon, Sun, & Earth Each

S8.A.2.1.3: Design a controlled experiment by specifying how the independent variables will be manipulated, how the dependent variable will be measured, and which variables will be held constant.
S8.A.2.1.4: Interpret data/observations; develop relationships among variables based on data/observations to design models as solutions
S8.C.3.1.1: Describe forces acting on objects (e.g., friction, gravity, balanced versus unbalanced).
S8.A.1.3.3: Examine systems changing over time, identifying the possible variables causing this change, and drawing inferences about how these variables affect this change.
S8.A.2.1.1: Use evidence, observations, or a variety of scales (e.g., mass, distance, volume, temperature) to describe relationships.
S8.A.2.2.1: Describe the appropriate use of instruments and scales to accurately and safely measure time, mass, distance, volume, or temperature under a variety of conditions.
S8.A.2.2.3: Describe ways technology (e.g., microscope, telescope, micrometer, hydraulics, barometer) extends and enhances human abilities for specific purposes.
S8.A.3.2.1: Describe how scientists use models to explore relationships in natural systems (e.g., an ecosystem, river system, the solar system).

Students will learn how the moon was created
Students will identify features produced by the cratering process
Students will create a model crater in the classroom.
Students will learn the difference between craters and what causes those differences.
Students will learn the Earth’s physical characteristics and its location and role within our solar system.
Students will create a poster and presentation based upon the information observed from said resources.
Students will learn about the Sun’s physical characteristics and its effects on our solar system.
Students will recognize the causes for daily and yearly calendar as caused by the sun.
Students will learn how NASA studies the sun by watching a video.
Students will be able to describe the sun in terms of size, brightness and composition.
Students will learn about sun spots and how they become solar flares.
Students will learn about the layers of plasma on the sun that create convection zones.
Students will make a model of the solar system based upon the information observed from said resources.

Student Learning Resources at Home


Watch Videos:
http://cseligman.com/text/moons/earthmoonpix.htm (Look at Pictures)


Tell students that tonight they will be introduced to the Sun. For their homework have students complete the “K” and “W” sections on the K-W-L chart with what they know about the Sun. The students will watch the four-minute video, NASA’s Research on the Sun, at

The students will also play a game that tells them about the sun, the moon and the earth.


Read and Review the Following Sites:
Complete the Following Quiz/Puzzle:
View 3D image of Earth and Toggle Features of Map on and off (top left):

Student Learning Activities at Home


Students will answer question. (What is the difference between a simple crater and a complex crater?)
Students will prepare other questions to ask teacher. (If any)
Students will fill out the K and W sections of their KWL Chart.
Students will define Vocab Words
Central peaks

While watching the video, the students will fill out the NASA’s Research on the Sun worksheet. They should read over the questions on the worksheet before the video. (see attached worksheet)


Students should complete both the knowledge (K) and what they want to know (W) columns of the KWL chart. After reviewing the information on the websites, students should create a poster that summarizes the important information found on the websites. Take a sheet of poster paper and fold it into fourths. Use the front and back to create eight boxes and label each one the following and fill it in with information and images from the websites. Students are welcome to use images, diagrams, and drawings to illustrate the information for each portion of their poster. Student posters will be graded on a rubric (see attached). Upon completion of the learned (L) column of the KWL chart, students should note where they learned specific information on their poster and chart and write down any remaining questions.
1. Statistics- size, volume, density, etc.
2. Surface- What are the characteristics of the Earth’s surface?
3. Atmosphere- What makes the Earth’s atmosphere unique?
4. Name- What is the history behind the word Earth?
5. Layers- What are the layers of the earth and in what order?
6. Plates- What are the Earth’s plates?
7. View- What does the earth look like from space?
8. Questions- What questions do you still have about the earth?

Classroom Activities


Making Impact Craters
Materials: Large aluminum pan, all-purpose flour, marbles, stones, other impacting objects, straws, play doh/clay, pencil, data chart
1. Students will work in groups of 3 or 4.
2. Each group will be given a pan of flour.
3. Each pan will contain about 3 inches of flour.
4. Before the students drop any object into the flour make sure it has been loosened or stirred. Then smooth out the top. If the flour is compacted too much they will not get the proper results.
5. Each group will be given impacting objects (marble) into the flour.
6. Students will drop the marbles from the distances given and record their observations on their data chart (see attached).
7. Students will take the play-doh and put it on the end of the straw. Then use the straw to take the marble out of the crater. This will allow the students to leave the crater intact.

Day 1 Demonstration: Rotation and Revolution
The next day discuss what they already know and put on their K-W-L charts as a class (see attached). Share the Your Top 10 Sun Facts resource with students and discuss each fact (see attached). Show students a three-dimensional model or an image of the solar system (see attached). Ask, “Why do all of the planets revolve around the Sun?” (The Sun is the most massive object in the solar system, so it has the strongest pull of gravity. The Sun’s gravity holds all of the planets in their orbits.)

Choose a location in the classroom with about 10' x 10' of space. Have students sit in a circle or semicircle, with the model in the middle. Insert one end of a skewer into the large Styrofoam ball for the Sun, and insert the other end of the skewer into the Styrofoam disk to elevate and secure the Sun ball. Or use a lamp with the shade removed to represent the Sun. Place the Sun ball or the lamp where all students can see it. Place the medium-size Styrofoam ball on a bamboo skewer to represent the Earth. Hold the skewer vertically so that the Earth can be held from above and rotated. Note: Tell students that the Earth spins counterclockwise, and that it is smaller than the Sun. Stress that Sun/Earth/Moon model is not to scale for size or distance. Explain that distances in space are vast and that this is a model to help us see the big picture.

Demonstrate the Earth rotating on its axis. Ask, “How long does it take Earth to complete one rotation on its axis?” (about 24 hours; 23 hours and 56 minutes) Demonstrate the Earth orbiting around the Sun. Walk counterclockwise in a circle around the Sun and simultaneously turn the skewer counterclockwise to demonstrate the Earth's spin as it orbits the Sun. Ask, “How long does it take Earth to complete one revolution around the Sun?” (365 1/4 days/1 year)
Introduce the Moon. Ask, “What revolves around the Earth? What do you see in the sky almost every night and also during the day?” Break a bamboo skewer in half and place the smallest Styrofoam ball on the half-skewer. Insert the other end of the skewer into the Earth ball at the approximate “equator,” perpendicular to the longer skewer.

Ask, “Does the Moon orbit around the Earth?” (Yes) “…the Sun?” (Yes)
Rotate the long skewer counterclockwise to demonstrate the spin of the Earth and the Moon orbiting the Earth. While turning the Earth/Moon model, walk counterclockwise around the Sun to demonstrate that the Earth is rotating, that the Moon is revolving around the Earth, and that both are revolving around the Sun. Explain to students that the motions they see demonstrated happen as a cycle and that the rotating and revolving never stops. Have students record the following in their journals:

Ask, “How long does it take for…
  • the Earth to rotate on its axis?” (about 24 hours/1 day)
  • the Earth to complete a revolution around the Sun?” (365 1/4 days/1 year)
  • the Moon to complete a revolution around the Earth?” (about 28 days; 27.3 days)

Close the lesson by having students diagram and label the relationship between the Sun, Earth, and Moon in their journals.

Day 2: Using Models to Understand the Seasons
For homework, students will describe the basic differences between the four seasons of the year. They will also give their best explanation of why we have seasons. Students will do some free research about why we have seasons. They will have to write down the sites and/or videos that they use.

In class the next day, students will draw two diagrams in their notes, showing the relationship between the Earth and the Sun: one during the winter and one during the summer in their hometown. Have them label the Sun, Earth, and seasons on the diagrams.

Give students copies of The Reason for Seasons worksheet (see attached). Explain that the seasons are caused by the tilt of the Earth on its axis away from or toward the Sun as it moves around the Sun throughout the year.

Have student volunteers help you use the foam balls for the Earth and Sun from the Day 1 demonstration to model the positions of the Earth and Sun during the seasons. Have the class explain the seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres, based on the positions of the Sun and Earth.

Check for understanding with the following assignment. On an unlined sheet of paper, have students draw diagrams showing the relationship between the Earth and the Sun as it would be on the day they are doing this activity. Then show students a world map and have them predict what season it is right now in the following locations: Brazil, Alaska, South Africa, Norway, and the Equator. Point out each of the locations on a map of the world. If time permits, use a Web site such as www.weather.com to check the actual current weather conditions in each location.

Close the lesson by having students fill out the “L” section of the K-W-L chart with at least two things they learned about the Sun in this lesson.


Classroom projector, group workspace, and group computers will be needed for this activity.
Using a projector, review the assigned websites and highlight where specific information used on the posters should have came from. Have students share what they found on particular websites and what they placed on their posters. Discuss any problems or difficulties students had with the assignment and allot class time to complete posters if necessary and collect KWL charts.
In mixed ability groups, students should compare and share their posters with one another and divide each of the seven categories from the poster amongst themselves. As a group, they are to prioritize and synthesize their poster information and create a group power point presentation about each of the 7 categories. They should information from all the posters, but only present the most important information to the class. Each member is in charge or sharing their assigned categories with the class during the presentation. Presentations will be graded on a rubric (see attached).



Monitor students as they work on the classroom activity.
When finished with the classroom activity, the students will take all the data they collected and write a brief summary of what they observed and complete the L section of their KWL chart.
Students will also submit their data chart in for grading.
Students will fill out a short exit ticket covering the lesson.
(Exit Ticket)
1. What are the two types of craters we discussed?
2. Name three parts of a crater.
3. How are craters formed?

Collect and assess the NASA’s Research on the Sun worksheet.
Monitor students as they diagram the positions of the Earth and Sun for different seasons in their journals, and as they predict the seasons for various locations on Earth.
Make sure students have completed the K-W-L chart for the Sun (see attached)

Each student poster will be collected and graded against a rubric.
Each group presentation will be graded against a rubric.


NASA’s Research on the Sun

Directions: Watch the video and answer the questions below.

1. How do we learn about the Sun?

2. How can the Sun be called a dwarf star, if it looks so big to us?

3. How many Earth’s would fit across the diameter of the Sun?

4. What is the Sun made up of?

5. What is the Sun’s photosphere?

6. Can solar flares affect the Earth and our satellites?

Solar System: K-W-L
What I Know
What I Want to Know
What I Learned

Moon Data Chart
Drop Height = 30cm

Trial 1
Trial 2
Trial 3
Crater Diameter

Crater Depth

Average Length of All Rays

Drop Height = 60cm

Trial 1
Trial 2
Trial 3
Crater Diameter

Crater Depth

Average Length of All Rays

Drop Height = 90cm

Trial 1
Trial 2
Trial 3
Crater Diameter

Crater Depth

Average Length of All Rays

Sun: The Reason for Seasons


Why do we have seasons?


1. The sun is a star. This makes it extremely important for life on Earth. The sun provides us with energy, which brings life on our planet. It defines the seasons, the harvests, and even the sleep patterns of all living creatures on Earth.

2. The sun is the closest star to our planet. Imagine two cars on the road during the night with their headlights on. One car is closer to you and the other one is far away. Which headlights would seem brighter and bigger? That explains why we see the sun so big and bright. It is simply the nearest star to Earth.

3. Remember! The Earth orbits around the sun.

4. The sun is way bigger than the Earth. In fact its radius is 109 times bigger than the radius of the Earth. For those of you who are curious, the sun’s Radius is 696,000km and the Earth’s radius is 6, 376km.

5. DON’T TOUCH THE SUN! IT’S HOT! The sun’s average surface temperature is 5700 C. Compare that to the Earth’s average temperature, which is 20 C.

6. The sun is 150 million km (93 million miles) away from the Earth.

7. How old is the sun? Can you imagine 4.5 billion years?

8. We know that the Earth’s structure consists of different layers. The sun also has layers but unlike the Earth, the sun is entirely gaseous; there is no solid surface.

9. The sun rotates on its axis approximately once every 26 days. The sun is made of gas, which is why its different parts rotate at different speeds. The fastest rotation is around the equator and the slowest rotation is at the sun’s polar regions (more than 30 days).

10. The sun changes. No matter when or where we look at the sun, we will always see something interesting. Scientists observe these changes by watching the sunspots. They increase and decrease on a regular cycle of about 10.8 years.

Earth Poster Rubric
Required Elements
The poster includes all required elements as well as additional information.
All required elements are included on the poster.
All but 1 of the required elements are included on the poster.
Several required elements were missing.
The poster is exceptionally attractive in terms of design, layout, and neatness.
The poster is attractive in terms of design, layout and neatness.
The poster is acceptably attractive though it may be a bit messy.
The poster is distractingly messy or very poorly designed. It is not attractive.
Content - Accuracy
At least 4 accurate facts are displayed on the poster in each category.
2-3 accurate facts are displayed on the poster in each category.
1-2 accurate facts are displayed on the poster in each category.
Less than 1 accurate facts are displayed on the poster in each category.

Earth Group Presentation Rubric
Text - Font Choice & Formatting
Font formats (e.g., color, bold, italic) have been carefully planned to enhance readability and content.
Font formats have been carefully planned to enhance readability.
Font formatting has been carefully planned to complement the content. It may be a little hard to read.
Font formatting makes it very difficult to read the material.
Content - Accuracy
All content throughout the presentation is accurate. There are no factual errors.
Most of the content is accurate but there is one piece of information that might be inaccurate.
The content is generally accurate, but one piece of information is clearly flawed or inaccurate.
Content is typically confusing or contains more than one factual error.
Spelling and Grammar
Presentation has no misspellings or grammatical errors.
Presentation has 1-2 misspellings, but no grammatical errors.
Presentation has 1-2 grammatical errors but no misspellings.
Presentation has more than 2 grammatical and/or spelling errors.
Sequencing of Information
Information is organized in a clear, logical way. It is easy to anticipate the type of material that might be on the next slide.
Most information is organized in a clear, logical way. One slide or item of information seems out of place.
Some information is logically sequenced. An occasional slide or item of information seems out of place.
There is no clear plan for the organization of information.
Group delegates tasks and shares responsibility effectively all of the time.
Group delegates tasks and shares responsibility effectively most of the time.
Group delegates tasks and shares responsibility effectively some of the time.
Group often is not effective in delegating tasks and/or sharing responsibility.