Information about the planets changes with each new
piece of data that is studied by planetary scientists. It is difficult to
tell which books give you the best up-to-date information on the planets.
The aim of this activity is to help students learn that scientific
information is by definition provisional. It is always subject to change as
new data is gathered, or as new interpretations are made. Students should
begin to learn that when they read books about the planets or any other
scientific topics, they should consider whether or not the information is
up-to-date. They must not "believe" all they read.
For example, the number of planets in the Solar System
is in debate. Some planetary scientists think the irregularities in the
orbit of Pluto mean that another planet must exist further from the Sun.
In this activity, the students compare and contrast
different web sites and books on planetary science. They will critique the
books and web sites to learn if there are any inconsistencies in the
Here are some suggested web sites for you to assign to
the students. You can use whatever books are available in your library. You
can easily add other web sites or books to this lesson. The worksheet is
generic, so you can have the students fill in the web sites or books you
- Have the students read the books and visit the web
sites. Have them complete the worksheet and critique the information that
- The answers are dependent on how carefully a
student reads the materials and whether they are looking for mistakes.
- Here is a list of recommended websites:
Windows on the Universe - an excellent
site with lots of information on the Solar System.
View of the Solar System, information on each of the planets.
Animations of planets and galaxies. The main Hubble Space Telescope
site contains many Hubble Space Telescope pictures.
An introduction to the planets from NASA, hosted by the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory. Many excellent pictures.
A NASA link site that connects with much of the organization's
student activities and information.
An overview of the history, mythology, and current scientific
knowledge of each of the planets and moons in our solar system. Many pages
also have sounds and movies.