6 Resources to Add the Olympics to Your Lesson Plan

The PyeongChang Winter Olympics are halfway through, and students across the world are watching athletes stretch the limits of possibility. The games offer a great point of interest to engage students in classroom discussions. Here are several science resources on the Internet to help integrate the games into your lesson plans.

Six Lesson Ideas for the Olympics

The Science of Winter Olympic Sports: NBC Learn developed a series of science tutorial videos for the Sochi Olympics in Russia. Each video explains the scientific principles at play in various sports. There is even a video explaining the physics behind Shaun White’s dynamic half pipe skills.

Getting Physical: The New York Times Learning Network published an extensive learning plan for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. This is a very detailed lesson plan with great exercises that highlight the science behind the Olympics. Check it out.

The luge is just one of many winter Olympics sports that can be used to demonstrate physics to students.
Image by the Republic of Korea. The Luge

Olympic Engineering: What does it take to get a city ready for the Olympics? Teach Engineering encourages students to build their own event centers using design process. Students are encouraged to think out of the box as they meet some of the challenges facing them, from geography to resources. Recommended for elementary or early middle school students.

Lesson Plans for Purchase: Teachers Pay Teachers hosts a whole series of lesson plans geared around the games. If you filter down to science, there are still more than 50 lesson plans altogether! Prices range from $2 to $10.

Eight Great STEM Lesson Ideas: Pearson put together a series of math and science lessons related to the winter games, but these could easily be applied to a Summer Olympics, too. Science teachers will find weather-related exercises towards the end of the list.

Gold Medal Olympic Activities: Education World put together a series of Olympic exercises, also for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Some of these include turning your classroom into its own Olympic competition between students!

What would you add?

Test Preparation: Make it Legendary

We’re just about halfway through the fall term, which means one thing: test preparation. I’m sure you can already hear your students groaning.

There is good news for your students! One of the most popular ways to use Legends of Learning is to review content before a test. Building a playlist of games and assessment questions is like creating an animated study guide: you choose the content for students to review, and they see it in action. Meanwhile, realtime analytics let you evaluate how well they understand the material.

Let’s take a look at an example. Say you’re preparing for an upcoming test on photosynthesis.

Once you’ve started a new playlist draft within the Photosynthesis Learning Objective, click on a game and review its “Game Curriculum” tab before dragging it. That way you can quickly vet which ones best highlight your concepts of focus.

The discussion questions here are great for asking your students, whether for individual or group review. They challenge your students to think critically about the topic by situating games in the proper educational context, leading to a rich, engaging experience in the days before a test. Many teachers who use Legends of Learning love discussing these questions with a group of students. When students collaborate and get excited about learning through games, knowledge retention increases.

 

 

Placing assessment questions before and after gameplay give you great insight into how well your students comprehend the material. In this example, Ms. Rose and Photosynthesis! discusses the conditions necessary for photosynthesis to occur in plant cells. By comparing your students’ pre and post game answers, you immediately see how much further review students’ need on this concept.

Assessment question analytics are broken into both individual and class-wide data, so the scale of concept comprehension is apparent. If it appears from the post game questions that the entire class is struggling with the conditions surrounding photosynthesis, you have the ability to pause everyone’s games and discuss points of confusion. Class time is more efficient with your instruction becoming more targeted to the concepts that need more review.

 

 

The view below further illustrates this test prep tactic. In this example, only 30% of the students have correctly answered a question about where the energy for life on earth comes from, so you know to emphasize that concept more in future review.

 

 

After a playlist ends, all of its question data is automatically saved. Teachers use this feature to examine which topics individual students struggle with and curate upcoming review to meet their individual needs. Completed playlists can easily be cloned and adjusted to build upon past review. For optimizing individualized test preparation, teachers love to create multiple tracks within a playlist.

As an example, if one group of students has a solid grasp on the material, assign them to a track that only contains a couple of games and assessment items and leaves more time for free play of games within the learning objective. For other groups that need additional reinforcement, build tracks that include more directed games and assessments.

Playlists are a powerful, flexible tool for any stage of review. Use Legends of Learning for superpowered test preparation and watch as student performance improves by leaps and bounds.

Log in and take a fresh approach to science reviewing!

Our Solar System Lesson Plan

When you’re teaching students about space, Earth’s immediate surroundings are a good place to start. Cover the sun, other planets, their moons, and asteroids with the Our Solar System Learning Objective. It includes a lesson plan created by science teachers, which you can download in PDF form or view below:

Lesson Plan: Our Solar System

NGSS Standard:  ESS1.B-1: The solar system consists of the sun and a collection of objects, including planets, their moons, and asteroids that are held in orbit around the sun by its gravitational pull on them.

Objective:

Students will be able to:

  • Explain the role of gravity in the solar system.
  • Explain the relationship between mass and gravity.
  • Predict the patterns of movement of objects in our solar system.
  • Accurately produce a 2D model of objects with varying masses that illustrates the relationship between gravity and mass.

Time Required: 85 minutes

Materials Needed:

  • Teacher computer with internet access
  • Projector/Smartboard
  • 1 computer/laptop/iPad/Chromebook per student with internet access or BYOD (students can Bring Your Own Device)
  • Our Solar System and Gravity handout (attached)
  • 15 magnets (varying sizes is acceptable and encouraged if magnets are not the same size)
  • A magnetic object, such as a paperclip or the leg of a student’s chair

Teacher Preparation:

  • Create Playlist 1, a 30 minute playlist in Legends of Learning with the following games found in the Our Solar System learning objective (in order):
    • Around and Around (15 minute play time)
    • The Sun, Moon and Stars: Patterns of Apparent Motion (11 minutes)
  • Create Playlist 2, a 10 minute playlist in Legends of Learning with 5 assessment questions from the Our Solar System learning objective.
  • Make copies of Our Solar System and Gravity Worksheet (1 per student).
  • Gather materials for the Engage portion of the lesson.

Engage (15 minutes):

The teacher will show a magnet to the class.

  1. 1. The teacher will use the magnet and a paperclip to show that the paper clip
    is attracted to the magnet.

    • The teacher will ask, “Is the magnet attracted to the paperclip or is the paperclip attracted to the magnet?”
      • Allow students time to think before accepting any answers
      • Teacher should employ a random way of calling on students if no volunteers are available.
    • The teacher may guide/prompt students to the understanding that
      the paperclip is attracted to the magnet.
    • Using the magnets, and working in pairs or triads, the students
      should explore the classroom for other objects that are attracted to the
      magnet. Ask students to use different distances between the magnet
      and the object and to note the results.
    • Students should also use magnets of two different sizes to observe
      the results.
    • Once students are done (after 5 minutes), they should reflect
      (verbally or with written text) on the following prompts:

      • What types of objects were attracted to the magnet? Were the objects
        that were attracted to magnet larger or smaller than the magnet? Is there a
        relationship between size and the amount of attractive force?
  2. 2. The teacher will say “The activity you just did was modeling gravity.
    Gravity is a force of attraction. Why do you think I used a magnet to
    model gravity?” The teacher should employ a randomized process for
    calling on students. Only a couple (1 or 2) answers should be allowed at
    this point due to time. The teacher should say, “Gravity is a force of
    attraction. Today you will learn how gravity is used to keep objects in our
    solar system in constant, predictable patterns of motion, and the
    relationship between mass and gravity.”

Explore (20 minutes):

  1. Have your students sign in to Legends of Learning and enter your teacher code.
  2. Launch Playlist 1 to your students.
  3. As students complete Around and Around, students should fill out the Our Solar Sys>em and Gravity Handout; question #5 will be done during the Elaborate section of the 5E.
  4. Assist students as needed during game play, pause playlist if you need to address content or questions to entire class.
    • The teacher may need to sit with struggling students in a group of no more than 4 to facilitate learning.

Explain (25 minutes):

  1. 1. The teacher will review the answers from the Our Solar System and Gravity handout.
  2. 2. The teacher will relate student knowledge to the demonstration at the beginning of class.
  3. 3. It is important to remind students:  The force of magnetism and gravity are not the same.  However, in order to model the process on a small, observable scale, magnets were used to model gravity.
    • Why was a magnet used?  A magnet was used to simulate an semi attractive force between objects.
    • What objects in our solar system were being represented by the magnet?  Any object in the solar system that has mass can be represented by the magnet.
    • Why was the paperclip attracted to the magnet?  The magnet is bigger than the paperclip.
    • How does the relationship of size affect gravity?  The bigger an object is, and the more mass it has, the more gravity it will exert on other objects.
    • Why does the larger magnet attract the smaller magnet?  The larger magnet has a larger “force”.
    • Students should be able to answer the following:
      • Why are the planets kept in constant, predictable motion?  The Sun’s gravity.
      • Why do all the planets orbit the Sun?  The Sun is the most massive object in our solar system.  Larger objects with more mass will attract more objects.

Elaborate (10 – 15 minutes):

  • Have students watch the video on gravity.
  • The teacher can clear up any misconceptions about gravity and mass at this point in the lesson.
  • Students complete question #5 on the Our Solar System and Gravity handout.

Evaluate (10 minutes):

  1. 1. Launch Playlist 2 to your students. When they finish the assessment questions, any time left is free play.
  2. 2. Analyze student results to determine what concepts need to be a focus for reteaching.

 

Our Solar System and Gravity

 

Name:  _________________________

 

Directions: While playing the second game in Legends of Learning called Around and Around, use what you learn to answer the questions below.

 

1. Label the planets in the correct order.  Please note: Image is not to scale.

2. What are some of the components of our solar system that astronomers have studied?  List some in the space provided.

A.

B.

C.

D.

 

3. What is the relationship between gravity and mass?

A The more mass an object has, the more gravity it will exert on another object.

B The more mass an object has, the less gravity it will exert on another object.

C The less gravity an object has, the more gravity it will exert on another object.

D The less gravity an object has, the less gravity it will exert on another object.

 

4. If two objects in space are close together, which of the following is true?

A Distance has no effect on gravity.

B The farther apart objects are will cause them to have greater gravity.

C The closer together objects are will cause them to have greater gravity.

D Gravity in space depends on how much light is being emitted from the objects.

 

This portion should be completed during the Elaborate portion of the 5E lesson.

 

5. Imagine that the solar system consisted ONLY of Jupiter, Mars, and Earth.  How would Jupiter’s gravity affect the orbits of Mars and Earth?  Draw and label your answer in the space below.

 

 

 

 

The Sun, Moon, and Stars Lesson Plan

One of our most popular learning objectives on the Legends platform is
The Sun, Moon, and Stars: Patterns of Apparent Motion. This is one of those learning objectives that also has a lesson plan associated with it. Here is a web version of that lesson plan.

Learning Objective:​ The sun, moon, and stars: Patterns of apparent motion

NGSS Standard: MS-ESS1.A-1 ​ Patterns of the apparent motion of the sun, the moon, and stars in the sky can be observed, described, predicted, and explained with models.

Objective
Students will be able to:

1. Explain the locations of the Earth, moon and sun and describe their relationship

2. Explain the movements of the Earth, moon and sun by developing models

    3. Explain the different phases of the moon by manipulating models

Time Required:​ 90 minutes

Preparation

Materials Needed:

  • Teacher computer with internet access and projector
  • Student computers/laptop/tablet with internet access (preferably one per student but at least enough for small groups of 3 -4 students)
  • Plastic spoons
  • Oreo cookies (or a like substitute)
  • Black Sharpie pens and colored magic markers
  • Construction paper
  • Paper towels

Teacher Preparation

  • Create Playlist 1, a 10 minute playlist in Legends of Learning with the following game found in “The Sun, Moon and Stars: patterns of Apparent Motion” objective page: Apparent Motion: Orbital Command
  • Create Playlist 2, a 20 minute playlist in Legends of Learning with the following game found in “The Sun, Moon and Stars: patterns of Apparent Motion” objective page: Sun Shooter
  • Separate Oreo cookies, Sharpies and plates for each group (at least 8 cookies per group)

Introduce Topic

Engage: 10 min

1) The teacher will play the video “5F Sun, Earth Moon The Science Video”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTDcfI2dabk

2) As students watch the video, they will write 3 or more new facts that they learned about the earth, moon, and sun in their science journal.

    3) The teacher then leads a discussion about the video and the relationship between the sun, moon and Earth.
    4) The teacher will instruct students to answer 3 questions from the video.

  • How many days does it take for the moon to orbit Earth? (28 days​)
  • How many days does it take Earth to orbit the sun? (365 ¼ days​)
  • How many hours does it take for Earth to complete one rotation on its axis? (24 hours​)

Explore: 10 min

1) Students will sign in to Legends of Learning and enter your teacher code.

2) Teacher will launch Playlist 1.

    3) Students will complete Apparent Motion: Orbital Command as the teacher assists students as needed. Stopping game play to address the questions asked in the game may be needed.

Expand on the Lesson

Explain: 10 min

1) The teacher will demonstrate the orbital and rotational relationship of the Earth, moon and sun by having students in groups of three demonstrate this concept using their bodies to represent each celestial body. If there is limited room in the classroom, the teacher can simply demonstrate this with one group of three students by moving desks enough to clear a space large enough for the demonstration. Optimally, the teacher will be able to use hallway space so several groups can demonstrate this concept. Each group will get a sheet with the following diagram, which demonstrates direction of rotation. (see Appendix A in the lesson plan)

2) As students demonstrate the rotational movements, the teacher assists students as needed as well as pausing the activity to ask questions to assess knowledge.

  • a. In which direction does the Earth rotate on its axis? Does the Earth rotate in the same direction as the Moon? as the Sun? i. The Earth rotates counter-clockwise on its axis. Yes, yes.
  • b. Does the moon orbit around the Sun or the Earth? Why does the moon orbit where it does? i. The Moon orbits around the Earth. This is because of its proximity to the Earth. Although the Sun has a greater gravitational effect due to its size, the moon is close enough to the Earth so that it is caught in its gravitational pull.
  • c. What is a solar eclipse and how does one form? i. A solar eclipse is when the sun is blocked, either partially or fully, by the moon. This occurs when the Moon’s orbit causes it to pass between the Earth and the Sun.

Elaborate and Evaluate

 

Apparent motion of the sun, moon, and stars.

Elaborate: 40 min

1) Students will separate into small groups (three or four)

2) The teacher hands each group a zip-lock bag with at least 8 Oreo cookies and plastic spoon, a blank piece of construction paper and markers.

3) The teacher then hands each group a sheet with the following diagrams: (see Appendix B in the lesson plan)

    4) Using the information on these sheets, students will construct a moon phase chart on the construction paper using the Oreos with various amounts of icing scraped off to represent the various lunar phases. The cookies are then arranged in a linear fashion on the construction paper to mimic the eight phases of the moon. The markers will be used to draw representations of the sun, Earth, directional arrows and titles of each lunar phase. A student example is provided below.

Evaluate: 20 min

1) Launch Playlist 2 for students.

2) Students will play Sun Shooter and be assessed on their ability to answer the questions provided in the game correctly.

3) Teacher will analyze student results to determine what concepts need to be a focus for reteaching.

Possible Extension activity:
Have students participate in the World MOON Project, which is a globally collaborative project that allows students from all over the world to observe and report on lunar phases. http://worldmoonproject.org/

Seasons Change:
Autumn Lesson Plan

Welcome to the first full week of autumn. Now that fall is here, you can discuss the earth’s tilt in relation to the sun. The Earth’s rotational axis is tilted relative to its orbit around the sun. The seasons are a result of that tilt.

The following is an abbreviated lesson plan, excerpted from our Eclipses and Seasons learning objective, found on the Legends of Learning platform.

Objective

Students will be able to:
1. Explain why Earth has seasons
2. Draw a model of Earth’s location during various seasons

Teacher Preparation

1) Prepare short lecture on Earth’s tilt and seasons.

Cross-Cutting Concept Tip: Consider adding a dash of photosynthesis since diminishing autumn light triggers trees shedding their foliage.

2) Create Playlist 1, a 30-minute playlist in Legends of Learning with the following games found in the Eclipses and Seasons learning objective:

  • Ms. Rose & Eclipses and Seasons!
  • Science Fair: Eclipse and Seasons
  • Temple of Seasons

3) Create Playlist 2, a 10-minute playlist in Legends of Learning with 5 assessment questions from the Eclipses and Seasons learning objective

4) Make copies of Eclipses and Seasons Worksheet (see the lesson plan)

Deliver Five Minute Discussion on Earth’s Tilt and Seasons

Deliver short lecture on Earth’s tilt. Take any questions before playing the games.

Launch Playlist

Directions: While playing the first game in Legends of Learning called Ms. Rose & Eclipse and Seasons, use what you learn to complete the diagrams and answer the questions below.

Seasons
Label the seasons in the Northern and Southern hemisphere at each location.
Circle the correct answer –

Question 1: It is summer for the hemisphere that is pointing (away from, towards) the sun.

Question 2: It is winter for the hemisphere that is pointing (away from, towards) the sun.

Question 3: When a hemisphere is pointing towards the sun, the sun’s rays are (stronger, weaker) on that part of Earth, making it (hotter, colder).

Question 4: When a hemisphere is pointing away from the sun, the sun’s rays are (stronger, weaker) on that part of Earth, making it (hotter, colder).

Evaluate (10 minutes)

1. Launch Playlist 2 to your students. When they finish the assessment questions, any time left is freeplay.
2. Analyze student results to determine what concepts need to be a focus for reteaching.

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Lesson Plan: Eclipses and Seasons

On August 21, 2017, we’ll see something the country has not seen in 38 years: a total solar eclipse. The day will be an exciting one for students and science teachers, alike. Let’s make it educational, too.

People across the country are looking forward to watching the sun completely disappear behind the moon. The total solar eclipse will darken skies from Oregon to South Carolina, an extremely rare event that for some locations on earth may occur as infrequently as every 1,000 years!

Legends of Learning has developed a lesson plan for the Eclipses and Seasons Learning Objective that you can use with your students. With it, we’re offering two of our games — “Walter’s Travels” and “Bubble Eclipse” — publicly on our Alpha Games page.

Complete with digital edgames playlists, assessment questions, and a visual eclipse simulation, our lesson plan has everything your students need to learn about this rare phenomenon. Check it out below, or download the PDF version!

 

Learning Objective: Eclipses and Seasons

NGSS Standard DCI: MS-ESS1.B-2. – This model of the solar system can explain eclipses of the sun and the moon. Earth’s spin axis is fixed in direction over the short-term but tilted relative to its orbit around the sun. The seasons are a result of that tilt and are caused by the differential intensity of sunlight on different areas of Earth across the year.

Objective:

Students will be able to:

  1. Explain why solar and lunar eclipses occur
  2. Explain why Earth has seasons
  3. Draw and manipulate models of solar and lunar eclipses
  4. Draw a model of Earth’s location during various seasons

Time Required: 75 minutes

Materials Needed:

  • Small beach ball (or other similar sized ball)
  • Ping pong ball tied to a string
  • Flashlight
  • Teacher computer with internet access
  • Projector/Smartboard
  • 1 computer/laptop/iPad per student with internet access
  • Eclipses and Seasons handout (attached)

Teacher Preparation:

  • Create Playlist 1, a 30-minute playlist in Legends of Learning with the following games found in the Eclipses and Seasons learning objective (in order):
  1. Science Fair: Eclipse and Seasons
  2. Volleclipse

  • Create Playlist 2, a 10-minute playlist in Legends of Learning with 5 assessment questions from the Eclipses and Seasons learning objective
  • Make copies of Eclipses and Seasons Worksheet (1 per student)

Engage (10 minutes):

Lay the flashlight on a table and place the beach ball approximately 24 inches in front of the flashlight.

Turn off the lights in the room and turn on the flashlight.

Holding the ping pong ball by the string, place the ping pong ball between the flashlight and the beach ball.

Ask for student observations regarding where they see the light hitting the beach ball and where they see shadow.

  • Answer: Light hitting the ping pong ball and beach ball. Small shadow on front of beach ball as well.

Continue holding the ping pong ball by the string, move the ping pong ball so that it is behind the beach ball.

Ask for student observations regarding where they see the light and shadow in this position.

  • Answer: Light hitting the beach ball fully, no shadow on the beach ball. Full shadow on the ping pong ball.

Explain to students: “I just demonstrated a phenomenon called an eclipse. Today we will learn about types of eclipses and also review why we have seasons. Think about this demonstration during today’s lesson as we will refer back to it at the end of class.”

Explore (30 minutes):

  • Have your students sign in to Legends of Learning and enter your teacher code.
  • Launch Playlist 1 to your students.
  • As students complete Science Fair: Eclipse and Seasons, students should fill out the Eclipses and Seasons Handout.
  • Assist students as needed during game play, pause playlist if you need to address content or questions to entire class.

Explain (20 minutes):

  • Review answers to Eclipses and Seasons Handout by drawing diagrams on board or using Smartboard.
  • Relate student knowledge to demonstration at the beginning of class.
    • Which item represents the sun? (flashlight)
    • Which item represents the earth? (beach ball)
    • Which item represents the moon? (ping pong ball)
    • Who can demonstrate a lunar eclipse using the items? (ping pong ball held behind the beach ball)
      1. Have student explain why
    • Who can demonstrate a solar eclipse using the items? (ping pong ball held between the flashlight and beach ball)
      1. Have student explain why

Elaborate (5 minutes):

  • Explain to students that although they experience seasons all the time, they are less likely to experience a lunar eclipse, and the opportunity to experience a solar eclipse is even more rare.
  • Show this timelapse video of what happens on Earth during a solar eclipse: https://vimeo.com/53641212
  • Ask students to describe what they are seeing in the video.
    • Answer: It is broad daylight then goes dark like nighttime, then back to broad daylight very quickly. The sun is completely blocked out for a while.

Evaluate (10 minutes):

  • Launch Playlist 2 to your students. When they finish the assessment questions, any time left is freeplay.
  • Analyze student results to determine what concepts need to be a focus for reteaching.

Seasons and Eclipses – Worksheet

Name: _________________________________

Directions: While playing the first game in Legends of Learning called Science Fair: Eclipse and Seasons, use what you learn to complete the diagrams and answer the questions below.

 

Seasons

Label the seasons in the Northern and Southern hemisphere at each location.

Circle the correct answer –

Question 1: It is summer for the hemisphere that is pointing (away from, towards) the sun.

Question 2: It is winter for the hemisphere that is pointing (away from, towards) the sun.

Question 3: When a hemisphere is pointing towards the sun, the sun’s rays are (stronger, weaker) on that part of earth, making it (hotter, colder).

Question 4: When a hemisphere is pointing away from the sun, the sun’s rays are (stronger, weaker) on that part of earth, making it (hotter, colder).

 

Draw the location of the sun, moon, and earth during a lunar eclipse and during a solar eclipse. MAKE SURE YOU LABEL THE SUN, MOON, AND EARTH!

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