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Lesson Title: Earth: A One-of-a-Kind Planet?
April 4, 2012

Unit: Earth and Space Science - Planetology

Grade Levels: 7-9

Connection To Curriculum: Earth Science, Astronomy, Biology and Geology

Teacher Prep Time: 30 minutes

Complexity Moderate

Keywords: surfaces, craters, hydrology, careers, astrobiology, online programs, extraterrestrial


Students analyze physical processes that occur on Earth and Mars and compare differences on how particular similar physical features occur. Students will use planetary comparisons in understanding why Earth is conducive to supporting life. What is life, and is life a rarity in the solar system and galaxy?

Students will:
• Compare and contrast the physical features on Earth and Mars to determine if these features were formed similarly.
• Organize Earth and Mars images into pairs that show evidence of similar physical processes.
• Determine what physical processes on Earth led to an environment suitable for life and investigate if similar physical processes may have provided an opportunity for life to have developed on Mars or on other planetary bodies in the solar system.
• Research the characteristics of what makes a planet inhabitable.

First page of Earth: A One-Of-A-Kind Planet?

Lesson Guide
Earth: A One-of-a-Kind Planet? Lesson
[117KB PDF file]



Professional Development Training Module for This Lesson

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Lesson Activities and Sequence

  1. Mars and Earth Physical Comparison
    Students investigate common physical features appearing on Earth and Mars and determine if these features have common origins.
  2. Astro-Venture: Search for and Design a Habitable Planet!
    This interactive website allows students to determine what makes a planet habitable and hospitable for life.
  3. Assessing Planets as Candidates for Life
    Students engage in a thorough investigation of what life is, what life needs to live, what makes a world habitable, what can life tolerate and if there is life on other worlds.

National Standards:

National Science Education Standards, NSTA
Earth and Space Science
• Earth in the solar system.
• Origin and evolution of the earth system.
• Origin and evolution of the universe.

Life Science
• Populations and ecosystems.
• Diversity and adaptations of organisms.
• Biological evolution.
• Behavior of organism.

National Geography Standards, NCGE
The Uses of Geography
• How to apply geography to interpret the past.
• How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future.

ISTE NETS and Performance Indicators for Students, ISTE
Technology Operations and Concepts
• Understand and use technology systems.
• Select and use applications effectively and productively.
• Transfer current knowledge to learning of new technologies.


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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator