Universe Cycle - Solar System (4)
Post Lab 

  • Discovering new facts about the Solar System.
  • Comparing different web sites and books on the Solar System.
  • critique
  • planetary scientist
  • planets
  • Internet
  • books on Solar System
  • worksheet

Students critique web sites and books on the planets.


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 information.

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 use.

  1. Have the students read the books and visit the web sites. Have them complete the worksheet and critique the information that they find.
  2. The answers are dependent on how carefully a student reads the materials and whether they are looking for mistakes.
  3. 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.

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