Strand V
Use Scientific Knowledge from the Earth and Space Sciences in Real-World Contexts


Science/Strand V
Content Standard 4
All students will compare and contrast our planet and Sun to other planets and star systems; describe and explain how objects in the solar system move; explain scientific theories as to the origin of the solar system; and explain how we learn about the universe. (Solar System, Galaxy, and Universe)


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 4
High School


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 4/High School
Benchmark 4
Explain how technology and scientific inquiry have helped us learn about the universe.

Benchmark Clarification

The remoteness of objects in the universe necessitates the use of sophisticated technologies to make even basic observations. Advancements in technology include radio, optical and other types of telescopes, space probes, satellites, computer imaging/modeling, spectroscopes, and charged-coupled devices.

Students will:

  • Explain how technological advances have allowed us to test our hypotheses and to expand our knowledge of the universe

Key Concept / Real World Context / Instructional Example / Assessment Example / Resources


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 4/High School/Benchmark 4
Key Concept

  • radiant energy
  • radio waves
  • light
  • spectra
  • color of stars
  • Moon and meteor samples


  • radio
  • optical and other types of telescopes
  • space probes
  • satellites
  • computer imaging/modeling

See Computer imaging/modeling (SCI.IV.4.HS.4).

Problems for investigation:

  • geology and weather of planets and moons
  • origins of extraterrestrial life


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 4/High School/Benchmark 4
Real World Context

  • histories of discoveries
  • stories of exploration
  • visits to observatories and planetariums
  • videos showing space exploration
  • samples of space materials including Moon rocks and meteorites
  • remote-sensing data
  • SETL — Search for Extraterrestrial Life


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 4/High School/Benchmark 4
Instructional Example

Benchmark Question: How do we study distant objects such as our Moon, other planets, the Sun, and other elements in the universe?

Focus Question: How have technological advancements changed our view of the sky?

Students will divide into small groups and each will investigate the historical development of several types of telescopes, including types of optical telescopes, infrared telescopes, radio telescopes, ultraviolet telescopes, microwave telescopes, and X-ray telescopes.

After placing these critical developments in chronological order (perhaps they could be displayed on a timeline), students will view slides of what our sky looks like in these same spectral bands in the same order.

Each student should sketch and compare the general characteristics of the sky in each of the spectral bands.

Each student will write an essay explaining how the Milky Way Galaxy appears in these views. And if it is indeed a spiral galaxy, why it appears as a thin line when viewed on its edge.

The teacher will present information about people of diverse cultures who have made significant contributions to science, because many of these contributions have not been recognized.

Constructing: (SCI.I.1.HS.1), (SCI.I.1.HS.4), (SCI.I.1.HS.5).

Reflecting: (SCI.II.1.HS.1), (SCI.II.1HS.2), (SCI.II.1.HS.4), (SCI.II.1.HS.7).


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 4/High School/Benchmark 4
Assessment Example

The teacher will present the following scenario: Imagine that you are part of a team of scientists from a major university. You need to prepare a speech for a congressional hearing on funding for the space program. You have been asked to prepare answers to the following questions:

1. What is the advantage of putting telescopes of each type (radio, microwave, infrared, visible, ultraviolet, X-ray, gamma) in space rather than operating them from the bottom of the Earth’s atmosphere?

2. Which types of telescopes are used effectively from the bottom of the atmosphere?

3. What are the advantages to scientific knowledge of using many different types of telescopes rather than just one?

Students will work as teams and research telescopes in order to prepare answers to these questions. One team will sit in the front of the room and act as congressional representatives while the other teams present their findings. The congressional representatives will evaluate each team on the persuasiveness of their arguments as well as the teams’ understanding of telescopes.

Students should demonstrate their understanding of the following key concepts:

1. A telescope above the atmosphere is not hampered by atmospheric interference.

2. Radio telescopes can be effectively used at the bottom of the atmosphere, but other types are limited by interference.

3. Optical telescopes can be effectively used at the bottom of the atmosphere, but other types are limited by interference.

4. Combining data from different types of telescopes gives a more complete view of the universe.

(Give students rubric before activity.)

Scoring Rubric






Understanding of key concepts

Shows understanding of one key concept.

Shows understanding of two key concepts.

Shows understanding of three key concepts

Shows understanding of four key concepts.

Persuasiveness of argument

Not very persuasive argument with little support and few logical reasons.

Somewhat persuasive argument supported by some logical reasons.

Quite persuasive argument supported by logical reasons.

Very persuasive argument supported by logical reasons.


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 4/High School/Benchmark 4


Adler Planetarium — Weather Watch.

Bradford Robotic Telescope.

Culturally Relevant Materials for Science

Current Information about Weather from Outer Space. MESTA, 2000.3.

Hubble Telescope Site — Science and Technology.

News/entertainment to budding astronaut/astronomers.

NASA — human space flight.

NASA — Star Trails Society.

NASA — Solar System Simulator.

Space Telescope Science Institute — Instruments.

The Sky at Many Wavelengths. Astronomical Society of the Pacific (slide show).