Probing for Information

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1 Name Class Date Inquiry Lab Probing for Information Using Scientific Methods Information about planets in our solar system has been collected by observation from Earth and from probes, or scientific instruments, either as fly-by missions or by landing on the surfaces of some planets. Probes have even been sent into the atmosphere the visible surface of Jupiter, one of the gas giants. In this lab you will be asked to complete a data table of information not as a human, but as a scientist from a planet far away from our solar system. You are studying a nearby grouping composed of a small star and its nine orbiting planets! Your next task will be to suggest the mission and features of a probe designed to collect information to fill in the gaps in the data that have already been collected. OBJECTIVES Investigate planetary features. Develop questions about the surface and atmosphere in our solar system. Propose features of a probe designed to collect planetary data. MATERIALS Art supplies, including drawing paper, posterboard, cardboard, colored pencils, glue, scissors, and tape Computer with access to the Internet Reference materials including encyclopedias, magazines, scientific journals ASK A QUESTION 1. What type of questions might a scientist from another planet in another solar system ask about planets in our solar system? What mission and design features would be necessary for a probe to collect the data about a planet in our solar system? FORM A HYPOTHESIS 2. Form a hypothesis that answers your question. Explain your reasoning. Holt Earth Science 45 Planets of the Solar System

2 Name Class Date TEST THE HYPOTHESIS 3. Using information gathered on the Internet, or from an encyclopedia or some other reliable source, complete two data tables: TABLE 1: THE INNER PLANETS Planet Major Atmospheric Components Avg. Surface Temp. ( C) Surface Unique Mercury Venus Earth Mars Pluto TABLE 2: THE OUTER PLANETS Planet Major Atmospheric Components Avg. Cloud Top Temp. ( C) of the Visible Surface Unique Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Holt Earth Science 46 Planets of the Solar System

3 Name Class Date 4. Compose one or more questions scientists might have about each of the nine planets based on the data collected. ANALYZE THE RESULTS 1. Evaluating Methods Choose one question a scientist might ask about the inner planets (solid surface) or one question about outer planets (gas giants). What type of instrument(s) would a probe need to collect the information to answer the question? Explain your answer. DRAW CONCLUSIONS 2. Drawing Conclusions List a major advantage and a major disadvantage of sending humans to collect data from objects in space. Holt Earth Science 47 Planets of the Solar System

4 Name Class Date 3. Drawing Conclusions List a major advantage and a major disadvantage of using only probes to collect data from objects in space. EXTENSION 1. Research and Communication Research and write an article reporting on one of the recent probes sent to Mars or Jupiter. Assume that the readers of the article are not aware of the importance of data collection to answer scientific questions. Include in your article the date the probe was launched from Earth and the date it arrived or will arrive at its destination. Give a brief description of the probe and the instruments it contains. Describe what scientists hope to learn from the mission. Finally, explain how the data are being sent back to Earth. Holt Earth Science 48 Planets of the Solar System

5 Inquiry Lab Probing for Information Using Scientific Methods Teacher s Notes TIME REQUIRED two 45-minute class periods LAB RATINGS Teacher Prep 1 Student Set-Up 2 Concept Level 2-4 Clean Up 1 Easy Hard Gabrielle Schavran Syosset High School Syosset, New York SKILLS ACQUIRED Collecting Data Inferring Interpreting THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD In this lab students will Test the Hypothesis Draw Conclusions Communicate the Results MATERIALS Students will need access to the Internet and other reference sources in order to complete this lab. Art supplies, such as drawing paper, colored pencils, clay, tape, cardboard, and glue may be used to illustrate probes. TIPS AND TRICKS You may wish to take things further and encourage the students to make a drawing of their probe, make a drawing of a probe in situ collecting data; or construct a 3-D model of their probe. Holt Earth Science 69 Planets of the Solar System

6 Name Class Date Inquiry Lab Probing for Information Using Scientific Methods Information about planets in our solar system has been collected by observation from Earth and from probes, or scientific instruments, either as fly-by missions or by landing on the surfaces of some planets. Probes have even been sent into the atmosphere the visible surface of Jupiter, one of the gas giants. In this lab you will be asked to complete a data table of information not as a human, but as a scientist from a planet far away from our solar system. You are studying a nearby grouping composed of a small star and its nine orbiting planets! Your next task will be to suggest the mission and features of a probe designed to collect information to fill in the gaps in the data that have already been collected. OBJECTIVES Investigate planetary features. Develop questions about the surface and atmosphere in our solar system. Propose features of a probe designed to collect planetary data. MATERIALS Art supplies, including drawing paper, posterboard, cardboard, colored pencils, glue, scissors, and tape Computer with access to the Internet Reference materials including encyclopedias, magazines, scientific journals ASK A QUESTION 1. What type of questions might a scientist from another planet in another solar system ask about planets in our solar system? What mission and design features would be necessary for a probe to collect the data about a planet in our solar system? FORM A HYPOTHESIS 2. Form a hypothesis that answers your question. Explain your reasoning. Answers may vary. Questions could include: Which planets have a solid surface? What are the components of the atmosphere? Is there evidence of life on the planet? Is the planet s surface frequently struck by meteorites? Probes built to answer these questions would need to land on the surface or orbit above the planet close enough to detect surface conditions; would need a method of collecting samples from the surface and detecting gases in the atmosphere; and would need a method of sending data back to the probe s mission control center. Holt Earth Science Planets of the Solar System

7 Name Class Date TEST THE HYPOTHESIS 3. Using information gathered on the Internet, or from an encyclopedia or some other reliable source, complete two data tables: TABLE 1: THE INNER PLANETS Planet Major Atmospheric Components Avg. Surface Temp. ( C) Surface Unique Mercury Venus Earth Mars Pluto TABLE 2: THE OUTER PLANETS Planet Major Atmospheric Components Avg. Cloud Top Temp. ( C) of the Visible Surface Unique Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Holt Earth Science Planets of the Solar System

8 Name Class Date 4. Compose one or more questions scientists might have about each of the nine planets based on the data collected. Answers may vary. Sample answers: What caused Mercury to become so wrinkled? Why does Pluto have a solid surface, not gaseous? Will water ever reappear on the surface of Mars? Why is the density of Saturn so low? Is there life in or under the atmosphere of Jupiter? Could Earth ever experience a storm as powerful and long-lasting as the Red Spot on Jupiter? ANALYZE THE RESULTS 1. Evaluating Methods Choose one question a scientist might ask about the inner planets (solid surface) or one question about outer planets (gas giants). What type of instrument(s) would a probe need to collect the information to answer the question? Explain your answer. Answers may vary. Sample answer: Solid surface question: What caused Mercury to become so wrinkled? A probe would need visual imaging, a method of obtaining rock samples and measuring the mineral content, and a way to measure the temperature of the planet s inner core. Gas giant question: Why is the density of Saturn so low? A probe would need visual imaging, a gravity meter, a method of detecting and analyzing gases in the atmosphere. DRAW CONCLUSIONS 2. Drawing Conclusions List a major advantage and a major disadvantage of sending humans to collect data from objects in space. Answers may vary. Sample answer: Advantage: Humans can make first-hand observation and interpretation. Disadvantage: Space travel is dangerous; it might be necessary to spend more money to protect human explorers than to collect data. Holt Earth Science Planets of the Solar System

9 Name Class Date 3. Drawing Conclusions List a major advantage and a major disadvantage of using only probes to collect data from objects in space. Answers may vary. Sample answer: Advantage: A probe would not need a life-support system and would not need to carry food, water, and oxygen. Disadvantage: Probes lack the capacity for intelligent thought, and would not be able to make the same judgements as human explorers. EXTENSION 1. Research and Communication Research and write an article reporting on one of the recent probes sent to Mars or Jupiter. Assume that the readers of the article are not aware of the importance of data collection to answer scientific questions. Include in your article the date the probe was launched from Earth and the date it arrived or will arrive at its destination. Give a brief description of the probe and the instruments it contains. Describe what scientists hope to learn from the mission. Finally, explain how the data are being sent back to Earth. Holt Earth Science Planets of the Solar System

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