Dawn Classrooms > History of Asteroids Module


The History and Discovery of Asteroids

Learners will explore scientific discoveries and the technologies as a sequence of events that led eventually to the Dawn mission. This standards-aligned module is organized around a learning cycle and engages students in a number of experience in order for the teacher to activate students' prior knowledge, assess student conceptual understanding in order to inform instruction.

Many of the MS Word documents below are password-protected. This means that there are special restrictions in effect. However, a student can type in the document and save their work electronically in the areas that show gold brackets []. A password is not needed to open, type in the gold brackets, or save the document. The document will continue to be password-protected in the restricted areas after being saved with the student's work.

Journey to the Beginning of the Solar System
Provides student with background information on the Dawn mission.

Where the Journey Began
Eight short reading trace the history of asteroid discovery and characterization from the time of Ptolemy (85-150 AD) to the present time. Each student group is responsible for one reading.
Thinking Outside the Box
Between Jupiter and Mars I, Place a Planet
Seeing Faraway Things as Though Nearby
It Was a Dark and Starry Night
The Lost is Found
Astronomical Serendipity
What Can You See With a Telescope?
I Can See You More Clearly Now
Modeling Asteroids
Contains hands-on activities that can be used to help students understand what astronomers in the historical readings of the Exploration Section were experiencing as they studied asteroids from Earth.
Patterns in the Sky
Patterns in the Sky
Students look at planetary distance information and use algebra to "discover" a gap between Mars and Jupiter
In search Of
In search Of ...
Students use a modern starchart to find a missing planet?
How Bright Are You?
How Bright Are You?
Students graph the brightness of asteroids and asteroid size versus their dates of discovery.
Seeing Circles
Seeing Circles
Students use different objects to learn about and model albedo
Where Are You?
Where Are You?
Students develop a model of asteroid diameters using mathematics and food.
Modeling in 3-D
Modeling in 3-D
Students experience how models can be made to represent objects in space.
Interaction Synthesis
Communicating Connections
Students communicate and synthesize what they have learned about the interrelatedness of science, technology, and relevant historical/political events.
Mystery Asteroid
Students apply their new knowledge and skills by making observations, inferences, and conclusions about a "mystery asteroid."
The assessment provides students with a Hubble Space Telescope picture of this "mystery asteroid," and then later presents some facts. Teachers can use students' responses to the assessment questions to evaluate their understanding of the module content.
Developed by Educators at McREL
Developed by Educators at McREL
Primary Authors
Deb Aruca, McREL
Dr. Donna Bogner, McREL
John Ristvey, McREL
Judy Counley, McREL
Lisa Maxfield, McREL
Contributing Writer
Dr. B.J. McCormick, McREL
Pilot Test Teachers
Louis Dilts, Challenge to Excellence School, Parker CO
Daniel Figueroa, New Roads Middle School, Santa Monica CA
Dr. Lucy McFadden, University of Maryland
Dr. Marc Rayman, Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Cal Tech.
Joe Wise, New Roads School, Center for Effective Learning
Field Test Teachers
Randy Mousley, Stucky Middle School KS
Aaron Kealey, Wilbur Middle School KS
Kathy Peavey, Hadley Middle School KS
Mark Gobert, Harmoney Area School District PA