Education and
Public Engagement
at the Lunar and Planetary Institute

Earth and Space Science Classroom Activities and Resources

Free middle school classroom activities and resources to meet Earth and space science standards: plate tectonics, lunar phases, seasons, and more.

STEP a NASA-funded project, assembled Earth and space science classroom activities and resources while working with Houston area educators to provide professional development in Earth and Space Science to thousands of teachers. Each Earth and space science topic includes hands-on activities, some inquiry activities, and powerpoints and additional resources.

Topics:

Weather and Climatic Interactions
This topic addresses TEKS 8.10 (a,b,c) and connects strongly to physical concepts of energy transformation, light, absorption, and seasons.

Rock Cycle: Processes of Rock Formation and Erosion
This topic covers TEKS 6.10 (B and D) and supports 8.9 (C).

Components of the Solar System
An overview of the Solar System and scale activities, definitions and misconceptions, and an introduction to gravity.

Lunar Phases
This topic addresses TEKS 8.7 B, regarding demonstrating and predicting the sequence of events in the lunar cycle.

Seasons
This topic addresses TEKS 8.7A, regarding modeling and illustrating how the tilted Earth revolves around the Sun causing changes in seasons.  Students should understand the scale of the solar system and the Earth’s revolution around the Sun before this topic is addressed.

Tides
This topic addresses TEKS 8.7C, relating the position of the Moon and Sun to their effect on ocean tides.  Students should understand the cause of lunar phases, and have an introduction to the concept of gravity, before tackling this topic.

Electromagnetism, light-year,  spectroscopy, imaging
This topic addresses TEKS 8.8 (C and D) with activities to build student understanding of the spectrum, light years, and how we measure distances.

Characteristics of objects in the Solar System
Looking at the planets, moons, Sun, comets, and asteroids: discussing with respect to images and spectra.

Cracking Up: Plate Tectonics
Explore the relationship between landforms, earthquakes, and plate tectonics, through an examination of the data.

Characteristics of the Universe
These resources and activities are geared toward meeting the 8th grade TEKS 8.8 A-E, and build upon the content included in Components of the Solar System and Electromagnetism, Light Year, Spectroscopy.

Nature of Science
These resources focus on understanding how science works and what a hypothesis and theory are.

Living in the Solar System
This topic includes TEKS 7.9 A and B, and connects to and reinforces 6.11 A and C.

Natural Resources and Ecosystems
This topic includes TEKS 7.8 A, B, and C — the impacts of natural catastrophes on ecosystems; watersheds; and weathering, erosion, and deposition by Texas ecoregion. 

Planning a Workshop
This topic included discussions on planning workshops, with a focus on the 1 hour CAST workshops.

Topographic Maps and Satellite Images

This topic covers TEKS 8.9 (C), including using and interpreting topographic maps and satellite images.

STEP Scientist Mentors

Overarching Discussion and Resources:

STEP Participant Initial Input

Science / Earth and Space Science Concept Inventories

Creating a Workshop: Notes from Facilitators’ and Teachers’ Perspectives