STEM: Earth's Structure and Beyond!

Time Required: One 45-minute session
Skill Level: Intermediate
Recommended Grades: 3rd to 5th

In this activity, students will work with a partner to compare a cross-section of planet Earth with cross-sections of other planets. Students will compare and contrast the structures and layers of various planets. Students will record their observations and doodle 3D models displaying cross-sections of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

Note: Any links outside of the3doodler.com are optional resources. We can’t ensure their upkeep or accuracy.

Knowledge

Students have
  • studied about the structure of the earth: crust, mantle, outer core, inner core.

  • had practice using the 3Doodler.

Objectives

Students will
  • identify characteristics of each planet's interior structures, i.e., layers Earth, Mercury, Venus, Mars, etc...

  • compare and contrast the layers of other planets with the layers of Earth.

  • use the 3Doodler to build models of each planet's interior layers.

Materials

Students will need
  • 3Doodler

  • light hollow balls of various sizes, e.g., ping pong, pink paddle ball, etc. (one per student)

  • larger ball for each group)

  • marker (2 per group)

  • scissors (2 per group)

  • Terrestrial Planet Table

Lesson Plan

Instructions

Step 1

Whole group: Display your computer or tablet screen on the board. Go to NASA's link on Gas Giant Interiors, and also reference Cross Section Diagram A and Cross Section Diagram B for other planets in our solar system.

Step 2

Note that all planets have layers. How are Earth's layers different than those of other planets?

Step 3

Discuss characteristics of the Earth's mantle: It's the thickest layer mostly composed of solid rock. Parts of the mantle are melted and flow slowly like a thick liquid.

Step 4

Discuss characteristics of the Earth's core: It's a dense ball made of mostly metals like iron and nickel. There are two layers to the core: the inner and outer layer. The inner core is a solid ball and is the hottest layer. The outer core is composed of liquid metal.

Step 5

Discuss characteristics of the Earth's crust/mantle: It's broken into continent-sized plates that move slowly on a thin layer of the melted mantle.

Step 6

Instruct students to review diagrams and characteristics of other planets (see links below). How are they the same and/or different than Earth's structures and layers? Model how to record observations in the Terrestrial Planet Table.

Gas Giant Interiors
Cross Section Diagram A
Cross Section Diagram B

Step 7

Demonstrate how to use the 3Doodler to create a model of the cross section of each planet.
*See Appendix

Step 8

Divide students into groups of 3-4. Hand out 3Doodlers, markers, scissors, and balls. Have the students in each group create different planets so that no group has duplicate planets within it.

Step 9

Circle to assist and assess as students work.

Wrap Up

Students will assemble their planets in a 3D display of their choice, e.g., mobile, diorama, window display. Students may add motors to show the rotation of planets. Students will share on Twitter. @3Doodler #3DoodlerEDU

Assessment

The teacher will assess students’ work based on planetary models, as well as written and verbal responses.

Possible Extensions

  • Students can create a cross section the Sun and Moon to add to their mobile. Students can also research the moons of other planets in our solar system (such as the moons of Jupiter) and create cross section models of those.

Resources

How to create a model of a planet with your 3Doodler:

1. Begin with a small hollow ball, e.g., a ping-pong ball. With your marker, draw a line to show where you will cutaway 1/4 of the ball. You can see an example of this here.
2. Puncture the ball with a scissor and then begin cutting along the lines. You should end up with 3/4 of the ball left over, as seen here.
3. Use your 3Doodler in a circular motion to cover the ball, stopping every now and then to smooth and spread out the plastic with your index finger. This will allow a little plastic to go further in covering your ball.
4. Once your ball is covered, create a thin disk the same size as the radius of your ball, as seen here. This will display the planet's layers.
5. Bend the disc as seen here and weld it to the interior of your 3Doodled planet exterior with warm plastic.
6. Create a tiny loop at the top of each planet so that it can be hung. Create a string of 3Doodler plastic as seen here, shaped like a hook to hang it from.

Vocabulary

  • collaboration - to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor.

  • core - the Earth's inner core is the Earth's innermost part. It is primarily a solid ball with a radius of about 1,220 kilometres (760 miles), which is about 70% of the Moon's radius. It is composed of an iron–nickel alloy and some other elements. The temperature at the inner core's surface is approximately 5,700 K (5,430 °C), which is about the temperature at the surface of the Sun.

  • crust - the outer layer of the earth, about 22 miles (35 km) deep under the continents (continental crust) and 6 miles (10 km) deep under the oceans (oceanic crust).

  • design - to prepare the preliminary sketch or the plans (for a work to be executed), especially to plan the form and structure of an object, building, bridge, etc...

  • Earth - the planet third in order from the sun, having an equatorial diameter of 7926 miles (12,755 km) and a polar diameter of 7900 miles (12,714 km), a mean distance from the sun of 92.9 million miles (149.6 million km), and a period of revolution of 365.26 days, and having one satellite.

  • Jupiter - the planet fifth in order from the sun, having an equatorial diameter of 88,729 miles (142,796 km), a mean distance from the sun of 483.6 million miles (778.3 million km), a period of revolution of 11.86 years, and at least 14 moons. It is the largest planet in the solar system.

  • layers - a thickness of some material laid on or spread over a surface.

  • mantle - the portion of the earth, about 1800 miles (2900 km) thick, between the crust and the core.

  • Mars - the planet fourth in order from the sun, having a diameter of 4222 miles (6794 km), a mean distance from the sun of 141.6 million miles (227.9 million km), a period of revolution of 686.95 days, and two moons.

  • Mercury - the planet nearest the sun, having a diameter of 3031 miles (4878 km), a mean distance from the sun of 36 million miles (57.9 million km), and a period of revolution of 87.96 days, and having no satellites: the smallest planet in the solar system.

  • Neptune - the planet eighth in order from the sun, having an equatorial diameter of 30,200 miles (48,600 km), a mean distance from the sun of 2794.4 million miles (4497.1 million km), a period of revolution of 164.81 years, and two moons.

  • planet - also called major planet. any of the eight large heavenly bodies revolving about the sun and shining by reflected light: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune, in the order of their proximity to the sun. Until 2006, Pluto was classified as a planet ninth in order from the sun; it has been reclassified as a dwarf planet.

  • problem-solving - the process or act of finding a solution to a problem.

  • Saturn - the planet sixth in order from the sun, having an equatorial diameter of 74,600 miles (120,000 km), a mean distance from the sun of 886.7 million miles (1427 million km), a period of revolution of 29.46 years, and 21 known moons. It is the second largest planet in the solar system, encompassed by a series of thin, flat rings composed of small particles of ice.

  • solar system - the sun together with all the planets and other bodies that revolve around it.

  • structures - the attitude of a bed or stratum or of beds or strata of sedimentary rocks, as indicated by the dip and strike, or the coarser composition of a rock, as contrasted with its texture.

  • surface - the outer face, outside, or exterior boundary of a thing; outermost or uppermost layer or area.

  • Uranus - the planet seventh in order from the sun, having an equatorial diameter of 32,600 miles (56,460 km), a mean distance from the sun of 1,784 million miles (2,871 million km), a period of revolution of 84.07 years, and 15 moons.

  • Venus - the planet seventh in order from the sun, having an equatorial diameter of 32,600 miles (56,460 km), a mean distance from the sun of 1,784 million miles (2,871 million km), a period of revolution of 84.07 years, and 15 moons.

Educational Standards

Common Core
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.7

Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

In This Lesson

Students will research information about the structures and layers of other planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune).

Common Core
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.9

Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis,
reflection, and research.

In This Lesson

Students will base models of planets on their research investigation.

Common Core
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.4

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

In This Lesson

Students will compare and contrast planets based on evidence
extrapolated from research on planets' structures.

Next Gen Science
4-ESS1-1

Identify evidence from patterns in rock formations and rock layers to support an explanation.

In This Lesson

Students will compare and contrast the structures/layers of other planets based on those of planet Earth.

Next Gen Science
2-ESS2-2

Develop a model to represent the shapes and bodies of land in an area.

In This Lesson

Students will develop models displaying a cross-section of planets' structures.

CS Teachers
1A-A-3-5

Decompose (break down) a larger problem into smaller sub-problems with teacher guidance or independently.

In This Lesson

Students will break down the process of understanding the structures of planets through research and design.

ISTE
1C

Use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.

In This Lesson

Students will use the 3Doodler to visually demonstrate the structures of Earth and other planets.

ISTE
4D

Exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.

In This Lesson

Students will demonstrate willingness and competency within an open-ended task with more than one possible outcome.

ISTE
6B

Create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.

In This Lesson

Students will create a cross-section of planetary structures using the 3Doodler.

ISTE
7A

Use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.

In This Lesson

Students will seek feedback from peers throughout the design, modeling and writing process.

Back to Lessons