Uranus: 27 Moons and Counting

Uranus: 27 Moons and Counting
Elizabeth Monroe: Science, Medicine, Inventions and tech

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: Three to four class periods.


Standards Compliance
NCSS Strand 8
Science, Technology, and Society
NCTE Standard 8
Students use a variety of technology and information resources to gather, synthesize, and communicate knowledge.
ISTE Standard 3
Technology productivity tools
ISTE Standard 4
Technology communications tools

Introduction:

The late 1700’s and early 1800’s were exiting times in the fields of science and technology. During the life of Elizabeth Monroe enlightenment ideas and ideals advanced many field of science dramatically. One of these fields was astronomy.   German born British astronomer Sir Frederick William Herschel was an amateur astronomer, as well as a composer; indeed, it was his interest in music that led him to the study of mathematics and eventually lenses. As telescopes were not readily available and the parts for one Herschel desired to make were not easy to procure he decided to construct his own telescope. He was able to accomplish this through his study of mirrors and lenses. On March 13, 1781, while scanning the skies with a 7-inch reflecting telescope he noticed the object that was eventually found to be the planet Uranus.   In 1782, he actually identified the planet Uranus and two of its moons, Titania and Oberon. It is worth noting that Herschel’s sister, Caroline, was also a noted astronomer at a time when women did not participate in the sciences very much.  She is credited with discovering several comets, some of which are named for her in some way.    Today, 27 moons surrounding the planet Uranus have been discovered.

Objectives:

1.  Students will create a graphic table that lists all of the 27 Moons of Uranus along with the year they were discovered and their discoverer.

2.  Students will use free online resources to create a timeline of discovery of the moons of Uranus.

3.  Students will create a PowerPoint Presentation that has one page for each of the moons of Uranus. Each page will contain the following information: the year it was discovered, the discoverer, the diameter of the moon and the mass of the moon.

Materials Required:

Computer with PowerPoint and Internet access; poster board; markers; table from the following website; http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Science/moons-of-uranus.php

Procedures:

1.  The teacher will tell the students that they are going to organize and present information in several different ways using several different platforms. These will include a poster, a timeline using online resources, and a PowerPoint presentation.

2.  The class will be split into three groups. Each group will create their project using one of the presentation formats. Depending on the amount of students, each group may be split into subgroups that each complete the project using the same format.

3.  The first group will create a graphic chart on poster board. The following information will be included on their chart: the names of the 27 moon of Uranus, the year they were discovered and the person or technology that discovered them. This information can be found on the following website. http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Science/moons-of-uranus.php

4.  The second group will use a free online timeline creator to create a timeline of the discovery of the moons of Uranus. An effective one can be found at the following site http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/timeline. There are others online and any one can be used. It might be a good idea for the students to try several of them to determine which best suits their purpose. The timeline must contain the year the moon was discovered and the discoverer. The students can search “free timeline creator” on their favorite search engine in order to find other examples.

5.  The third group will create a PowerPoint Presentation that has one page for each of the moons of Uranus. Each page will contain the following information: The year it was discovered, the discoverer, the diameter of the moon and the mass of the moon.

6.  When each group (and sub group) completes its project, students will present their work to the class. The students will then write a reflection in their journal explaining which graphic platform they thought was the most effective and why.

Extending the Lesson:

The objective of this lesson is to create a graphic presentation. An extension of this lessonwould be to assign the students a different presentation platform than the one they just completed. The students will then complete another project. Topics may include moons of another planet such as Jupiter or Saturn, or any other topic the teacher finds appropriate within the curriculum. Since the focus is the presentation, the topics may come from any subject area.
 
One might also encourage students to research the life of Caroline Herschel and discover her contributions to astronomy.

Sources & Resources:

Books:
 
Driscoll, Michael and Hamilton, Meredith. A Child’s Introduction to the Night Sky: The Story of the Stars, Planets, and Constellations--and How You Can Find Them in the Sky. Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, 2004.
 
Landau, Elaine. Uranus. Children’s Press, 2008.
 
Wagner, Kathi and Racine, Sheryl. Everything Kids' Astronomy Book: Blast into outer space with steller facts, integalatic trivia, and out-of-this-world puzzles. Adams Media, 2008.

Websites:

Solar System Exploration: Uranus

William Herschel

The Astronomical League: William Herschel

List of the Moons of Uranus

Timeline Generator

Credits:

This lesson was developed by Robert McClelland, Cleveland Municipal School District.