Level 3

Alaska Science
Key Element

A student who meets the content standard should understand models describing the composition, age, and size of our universe, galaxy, and solar system and understand that the universe is constantly moving and changing (Universe).


green rule

Performance Standard Level 3, Ages 11–14

Students collect and analyze data to create a model to explain motions of objects within our solar system and in relation to the Milky Way.

Sample Assessment Ideas

green rule

Sample Assessment Ideas

  • Students describe the appearance and monthly motion of specific constellations in the night sky (which traditionally signified the change of seasons or movement of animals and fish) in terms of the background stars and Earth’s rotation around the sun.

  • Students design a scaled model of our solar system and identify our planet within the solar system.

Standards Cross-Reference green rule

Standards Cross-References
( Alaska Department of Education & Early Development Standards

National Science Education Standards

The motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of motion, and speed. That motion can be measured and represented on a graph. (Page 154)

The Earth is the third planet from the sun in a system that includes the moon, the sun, eight other planets and their moons, and smaller objects, such as asteroids and comets. The sun, an average star, is the central and largest body in the solar system. (Page 160)

Most objects in the solar system are in regular and predictable motion. Those motions explain such phenomena as the day, the year, phases of the moon, and eclipses. (Page 160)



The sun is a medium-sized star located near the edge of a disk-shaped galaxy of stars, part of which can be seen as a glowing band of light that spans the sky on a very clear night. The universe contains many billions of galaxies, and each galaxy contains many billions of stars. To the naked eye, even the closest of these galaxies is no more than a dim, fuzzy spot. (Page 64)

The sun is many thousands of times closer to the Earth than any other star. Light from the sun takes a few minutes to reach the Earth, but light from the next nearest star takes a few years to arrive. The trip to that star would take the fastest rocket thousands of years. Some distant galaxies are so far away that their light takes several billion years to reach the Earth. People on Earth, therefore, see them as they were that long ago in the past. (Page 64)

Nine planets of very different size, composition, and surface features move around the sun in nearly circular orbits. Some planets have a great variety of moons and even flat rings of rock and ice particles orbiting around them. Some of these planets and moons show evidence of geologic activity. The Earth is orbited by one moon, many artificial satellites, and debris. (Page 64)

Large numbers of chunks of rock orbit the sun. Some of those that the Earth meets in its yearly orbit around the sun glow and disintegrate from friction as they plunge through the atmosphere and sometimes impact the ground. Other chunks of rocks mixed with ice have long, off-center orbits that carry them close to the sun, where the sun’s radiation (of light and particles) boils off frozen material from their surfaces and pushes it into a long, illuminated tail. (Page 64)

We live on a relatively small planet, the third from the sun in the only system of planets definitely known to exist (although other, similar systems may be discovered in the universe). (Page 68)

Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly, or that are too vast to be changed deliberately, or that are potentially dangerous. (Page 269)

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