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Make a Blue Marble Match
Four images of geological features such as craters and a volcano

Blue Marble Matches shows students how Earth’s geologic processes help scientists learn about other planets. Image Credit: NASA

How can Earth help scientists better understand what happens on other planets in the solar system? Scientists use information about Earth's geologic processes to draw conclusions about the surfaces of other planets.

Blue Marble Matches is a classroom activity for students in grades 3-12. It helps students understand how they can compare planets using Earth as a standard.

By the end of the activity, students will be able to identify common geologic features, discuss how those features form, and use observations to form conclusions about what processes helped shape the surface of other planetary bodies.

The lesson is broken into five parts:
  1. Students observe and describe a collection of images representing four different geologic processes.
  2. Students create a list of criteria to identify features on Earth.
  3. Students reinforce and review their identification criteria by explaining and supporting their identification of features in new images of Earth.
  4. Students extend and apply their knowledge to compare planets by looking at images of the surface of Earth’s neighboring planets. Students then use the identification criteria they created to support identification of features and associated geologic processes.
  5. Students synthesize what they have learned to draw more general conclusions about geologic processes on planets.
Blue Marble Matches includes a teacher guide, student guide, Explore Cards, BMM Feature Charts for Earth, Earth Feature Review Images, Feature Image Charts for Planetary Bodies, optional Quick Reference Sheet, and optional Planetary Resource Information.

The teacher guide includes ways the activity can be adapted for younger students as well as suggestions for extension of materials, including measurement, scale and deeper comparison of planetary systems.

For online materials, visit http://ares.jsc.nasa.gov/ares/eeab/BMM.cfm   → .

Blue Marble Matches was funded by NASA and developed as part of the Expedition Earth and Beyond Program created by Jacobs Technology Engineering Science Contract Group at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Brandi Bernoskie/Institute for Global Environmental Strategies