Cep 810: Teaching for Understanding with Computers a journey To The Solar System

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CEP 810: Teaching for Understanding with Computers

A Journey To The Solar System

A Model Idea-based, Internet-Integrated Lesson Plan

Huda Hammoud


A Model Idea-based, Internet-Integrated Lesson Plan

A Journey To The Solar System

Grade Level

Grade 5

Purpose of Technology:

  • Students take ownership of their learning

  • Enhance enthusiasm and learning outcomes

  • Offers a real –life experience. children launch a spacecraft that travels the solar system under their command.

The Subject Matter


Central Idea

The solar system is part of a vast and complex universe.

Lesson Objective

Students view the planets, their moons, spacecraft and a whole lot more. Students understands the planets have moons that orbit around them and that they all orbit around the Sun

Celestia software downloaded on the computers

Teacher’s Questions:

  • What is the Solar System?

  • How many planets are there?

  • Is Pluto a planet? ( dwarf planet)

  • What do planets have in common?

Students’ Questions:

      • Why don’t astronauts float away?

      • Why do they go to the moon?

      • Why are planets colors?

      • Why does the earth turn?

Students’ questions are answered during the lesson or researched in later sessions.


KWL Chart to be completed before the lesson and after the lesson as homework activity

K: What does the student know about the planets?

W: What do they want to know about the solar system/planets?

L: What I did the student learn about the planets?

The Flow

  • Ensure that Celesstia is accessible and functions in on the computers.
    • Print enough copies of mouse and keyboard controls for Celestia.
    • Prepare enough copies of the worksheet with questions for students to answer during their journey
    • Ask questions about planets. (Teacher’s Questions)

    • Show students on the projector how to access and to use the program

    • Show students how to use the camera and video function of Celestia

    • Take them on tour to the solar system show them the Sun, planets and their moons, asteroid,

    • Group students in groups
    • Groups share one of their findings using the smart board with the class.
Lesson Extension:

Early finishers take a tour to other galaxies in the vast universe.


There were no technical difficulties to mention throughout the lesson that I have given, ideal but rare to happen. I must say here that the ‘dress rehearsal’ before the lesson was of great help. As an IT teacher, I always troubleshoot all sorts of technical problems at my lab, especially when homeroom teacher use the lab to apply technology to their curricular material.

I choose to use this particular method because I believe that simulations play an integral role in learning -- learning that involves interest and enthusiasm; learning by doing. I am a big believer of the Chinese proverb “I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand.”

Students understand the concepts thoroughly if they experiment with the topic itself. Therefore the content of the lesson would no longer be an abstract idea but rather a true experience. Students were fully engaged in the lesson. The engagement in the "hands-on" activity was so great. The students took responsible roles interactively instead of being only a group of listeners. They were extremely exited as if they were on a magic carpet to the universe. Celestia allows students to see the relationship between the elements of the solar system, far and near. It also gives them the chance to change the way they look at the universe, worlds different from what they read in textbooks. It is indeed a simple and easy program to use, yet it offers an excellent engaging experience for students from different age groups.

I would like to use the same lesson idea with another tool in the future. The sky feature in Google Earth and MS World Wide Telescope are great tools for this lesson.

It is hard to imagine why anyone would want to use an alternative tool to technology set aside real life experiences when applicable as technology provides a teacher to simulate situations that cannot be otherwise available for illustration such as volcanic activities, storms and so on. Celestia gave the students the opportunity to travel throughout the solar system which is otherwise impossible; it offers a flight thought the solar system with simulations of how moons orbit planets and how vast is the universe without leaving the room.

The exponential zoom feature lets you explore space across a huge range of scales, from galaxy clusters down to spacecraft only a few meters across.” (Celestia).

Celestia give the students the opportunity to:

  • Peer through the primary focus from inside the Hale Telescope on Palomar Mountain.

  • View Earth’s Magnetic Field from space and see the Aurora glowing and shimmering.

  • Examine the actively erupting volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io. Fly through a spewing volcanic plume.

  • Hover far beyond Saturn, plunge through its rings, and count its 60 moons.


Programs such as Celestia enriched the experience of students learning complicated concepts that are otherwise far more difficult to understand and illustrate using two-dimensional diagrams and images.


(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.shatters.net/celestia/

Celestia. (n.d.). Retrieved 13 11, 2008, from Shatters: http://www.shatters.net/celestia/

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