Science Sampler: What to do about Pluto?

Journal Article by: Anna Hurst and Suzanne Gurton Digital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

Perhaps Pluto is no longer a planet, but does that mean we should remove it from our solar system models? Is it time to order new textbooks, buy new posters, and invent new mnemonic devices? Slow down, no need to panic! Pluto hasn’t gone anywhere or changed at all, we simply changed the category in which to classify it. So rather than wave goodbye to this distant icy rock, take advantage of the situation to give our students a more complete view of the solar system, as well as some insight into the scientific process using the sorting and modeling activities described in this article.

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A selection from Science Scope—Summer 2007

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Reviews (3)
  • on Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:24 AM

Exploring the solar system is a major concept in astronomy. This article suggests two different approaches to sorting. The first activity comes from an online internet site that provides 24 cards for groups of students to sort. Students are instructed to sort in any fashion they choose. After completion a whole class discussion leads to how heavenly bodies are really classified. The second activity allows students to understand the concept of volume. This activity is provided in the article. These two activities would be an excellent introduction to our solar system.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Tue May 28, 2013 10:51 AM

This article really does not tell what to do about Pluto. The article has two activities about astronomy. The first is a card sorting game where students created their own grouping of bodies in space. The second is modeling the sizes of the planets. The activities are well written and easy to follow. The website for the cards no longer is available as of the writing of this review.

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:27 PM

This activity provides a good comparison of the relative volumes (I really like that the author used this term instead of "size" but it wouldn't fit in the allotted characters for the title!) of some of the major objects in the solar system using an easily available website. I am sad that the author did not mention the fact that this is also an opportunity to teach about how theories and scientific definitions are developed and change over time with new discoveries - hinted at this but didn't really address it. Then, perhaps it was because there are already so many other articles that say that! That was the only detraction from a well written article and good lesson idea!

Tina Harris  (Fairmount, IN)
Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN)

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