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  • 5th Grade

    Space Systems: Stars and the Solar System

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Support an argument that differences in the apparent brightness of the sun compared to other stars is due to their relative distances from the Earth. 5-ESS1-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Represent data in graphical displays to reveal patterns of daily changes in length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky. 5-ESS1-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  3. Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down. 5-PS2-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

A Peformance Expectation (PE) is what a student should be able to do to show mastery of a concept. Some PEs include a Clarification Statement and/or an Assessment Boundary. These can be found by clicking the PE for "More Info." By hovering over a PE, its corresponding pieces from the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts will be highlighted.

Science and Engineering Practices

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Analyzing data in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to introducing quantitative approaches to collecting data and conducting multiple trials of qualitative observations. When possible and feasible, digital tools should be used.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Engaging in argument from evidence in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to critiquing the scientific explanations or solutions proposed by peers by citing relevant evidence about the natural and designed world(s).

By clicking on a specific Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Idea, or Crosscutting Concept, you can find out more information on it. By hovering over one you can find its corresponding elements in the PEs.

Planning Curriculum

Common Core State Standards Connections


  • RI.5.1 - Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. (5-ESS1-1), (5-PS2-1)
  • RI.5.7 - Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently. (5-ESS1-1)
  • RI.5.8 - Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s). (5-ESS1-1)
  • RI.5.9 - Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably. (5-ESS1-1), (5-PS2-1)
  • SL.5.5 - Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes. (5-ESS1-2)
  • W.5.1 - Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information. (5-ESS1-1), (5-PS2-1)


  • 5.G.A.2 - Represent real world and mathematical problems by graphing points in the first quadrant of the coordinate plane, and interpret coordinate values of points in the context of the situation. (5-ESS1-2)
  • 5.NBT.A.2 - Explain patterns in the number of zeros of the product when multiplying a number by powers of 10, and explain patterns in the placement of the decimal point when a decimal is multiplied or divided by a power of 10. Use whole-number exponents to denote powers of 10. (5-ESS1-1)
  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (5-ESS1-1), (5-ESS1-2)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (5-ESS1-1), (5-ESS1-2)

Model Course Mapping

First Time Visitors

Resources & Lesson Plans

  • More resources added each week!
    A team of teacher curators is working to find, review, and vet online resources that support the standards. Check back often, as NSTA continues to add more targeted resources.
  • When watching this video, students will observe tree shadows changing direction while the sun appears to move in the sky over the course of the day. This anchor phenomenon can be used to prompt student questions and initiate further investigatio ...

  • By watching this episode of Crash Course Kids, students will learn why different constellations appear in the night sky from season to season. They will also find out why people in the Northern Hemisphere view different constellations than people in ...

  • In this activity students explore the relative size of the sun and Earth as well as the distance between them at that relative size.  This activity serves as a first step to building understanding of distances in space.

  • This short YouTube video from the Crash Course Kids provides students background information on gravity, demonstrating how when we talk about gravity pulling things down, we really mean that gravity is pulling things toward the Earth. It provide ...

  • The key questions of the lesson are “What is the pattern of the sun’s tracks?” and “How do the sun’s tracks compare from season to season?” Students measure the angle of the sun at different times of the day using ...

  • Students graph the local periods of sunlight and darkness in a 24-hour day using gathered sunrise and sunset times.  They make comparisons between periods of sunlight and darkness on different days of the year.  The data is represented ...

  • This is a formative assessment probe designed to elicit student ideas about why constellations that we can view in the night sky change with the seasons.  It poses a situation of a class visit to the planetarium where the program is about the su ...

  • This article features a  5E lesson using the children's book "Gravity" by Jason Chin.  It uses Page Keeley's formative assessment probe, "Tower Drop" and several videos in addition to the book. Students ...

  • This explanatory video demonstrates how shadows change in direction and length as the sun's position changes in the sky.  A featured "investigation" illustrates this phenomena using an example of a lamppost shadow&nb ...

  • This is a formative assessment probe designed to elicit student ideas about the relative positions of objects seen in the sky.  Students observe a picture of a person viewing the night sky and wonder about the distance of the moon and stars ...

  • Participants use provided images of earth and space objects to arrange them in order of their size, their distance from Earth, their temperature, and/or their age. Through this work students represent and confront their mental models of space an ...

  • This interactive simulation provides a model of the sun’s apparent motion from two different perspectives on a single applet: (1) a space based view, and (2) how a stick figure’s shadow changes on Earth using a horizon diagram.  The ...

  • This resource is a packet of supplementary curriculum materials for grades 2-4 developed by the Stanford SOLAR (Solar On-Line Activity Resources) Center in conjunction with NASA and the Learning Technologies Channel.  This evaluation refers to t ...

  • This resource provides methods for teaching students to calculate and graph photoperiod (amount of daylight) over time. There are several tips from teachers that have used this in their classrooms with methods for younger students or struggling stude ...

  • This resource provides teaching suggestions with a slideshow and photo gallery (showing hourly movement) as well as an animation of Earth’s rotation to develop understanding of day and night. This can be used as a stand-alone activity or as par ...

  • Stellarium is a free open source software project that makes your computer a virtual planetarium.  Students can use the program to find the positions of the Sun and Moon, planets and stars.  With the program they can show how the sky w ...

  • Students construct a size-distance scale model for the sun, Earth, moon and stars.  In addition, they use their bodies and movements to model the relationship between time and astronomical motions of Earth (rotation on its axis and orbit around ...

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Planning Curriculum gives connections to other areas of study for easier curriculum creation.