Social Studies/Science Block - U.S. History and Science




      This course is designed for small group instruction of struggling readers that require explicit instruction and specialized learning strategies.  Students are encouraged to develop a ‘growth mindset’ and take ever-increasing responsibility for their own learning. Classes will address state objectives in 7th and 8th grade science including Weather (The Atmosphere), Plants, Energy, Space, Biology- Animal Habitats and Adaptations, Ecology, and the Ocean. 

     We will begin Q-1 with a study of the Weather in September, and a unit on Plants in October.  A field trip to Kensington Metro Park is tentatively planned for sometime in Oct.  A Study Guide and Quizlet will be sent home on the first day of each unit with tentative unit test dates.  Class notebooks and formative assessments will be sent home for study befor the final test.


    The Solar System- Study Guide Group 2 

    Tentative test date- - Hands On- project-Construct a model of the Sun, Moon and Earth


    Learning Targets:      

    Essential Element: EE.MS-ESS1-1

    Target Level: Use an Earth-Sun-Moon model to show that Earth's orbit around the Sun corresponds to a calendar year and the orbit of the Moon around Earth corresponds to a month.

    Precursor Level: Use a model to show that Earth's Moon moves around Earth, and Earth and its Moon move around the Sun.

    Initial Level: Recognize models of the Earth, Moon, and Sun system.                                                     


    The Sun, Moon and Earth- Motions of the Earth:


              The earth rotates every day. It spins on its axis. It takes about 24 hours to spin one time around.  The time it takes from one sunrise to the next is called a solar day. This movement is what causes the sun to appear to move across the sky. It "rises" and "sets" every day. There are different periods of sunlight and darkness around the world. When one side of the earth is facing the sun, it is daytime. On the other side of the earth, it is night. That side has only darkness because it is facing away from the sun. Time is based on a solar day.


               The earth also has an annual (yearly)  motion. This is its orbit, or revolution, around the sun. It takes about 365 and 1/4 days for the earth to make one trip around the sun. We call this one year. Because calendars can't handle 1/4 days, we say there are 365 days in a regular year. Once every four years, the calendars "catch up" in what is called a leap year. A leap year has 366 days.  The earth also has an annual motion. This is its orbit, or revolution, around the sun. It takes about 365 and 1/4 days for the earth to make one trip around the sun. We call this one year. Because calendars can't handle 1/4 days, we say there are 365 days in a regular year. Once every four years, the calendars "catch up" in what is called a leap year. A leap year has 366 days.  We add one day to our calendar in February - Feb 29- every 4 years.


    In addition to the rotating and revolving, the earth is also tilted on its axis. The tilt of the axis does not change as the earth moves in its orbit around the sun. At one point, the northern hemisphere is tipped toward the sun. At the same time, the southern hemisphere is pointed away. About six months later, the opposite will be true. The northern hemisphere will be pointed away, and the southern hemisphere will be pointed toward the sun.


    The tipping and orbiting are what cause the earth to have different seasons. When one hemisphere (top or bottom of earth) is pointed toward the sun, the rays hit this area more directly. The season of summer has begun when the earth is tilted toward the sun.  The days are warmer and longer.  When one hemisphere has summer, the other has winter. When the earth is tilted away from the sun. The weather is colder. The days are shorter.



    The sun. We couldn't live without it. All life on earth depends on the energy that comes from the sun. It controls our climate and weather. The sun is really a star. It is the closest one to earth. It is about 93 million miles away. The sun is the center of our solar system. All the planets revolve around it.

    The sun is part of the Milky Way galaxy. Scientists believe it is just a bit older than earth, about 4.6 billion years. It is so large that about a million earths would fit inside it.




             The moon goes around or orbits the Earth, just as Earth orbits the sun. The phases of the moon are caused by the positions of the Earth, sun, and moon. The moon orbits the earth in 27 days, 7 hours, 43 minutes. That's almost four weeks, and we see four phases of the moon. Each phase lasts about one week each.
             You may have heard people refer to the moon as either "waxing" or "waning." Waxing means that it is growing fuller, and waning means that it is moving from full to smaller. The sun always lights up the side of the moon facing the sun. When the sun and moon are on opposite sides of the earth, the moon appears "full" to us, a bright, round circle. When the moon is between Earth and the sun, it is dark. We call this a "new" moon. In between, the moon's illuminated surface appears to grow (waxes) to full, then decreases (wanes) to the next new moon.


              The moon has no light of its own. It only reflects light from the sun.


              The United States sent a manned mission – the Apollo 11 spacecraft - to the moon in 1969.  Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon.





    There are eight planets in the sky that orbit the sun. They are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. They are listed in the order they are closest to the sun. Jupiter and Saturn are the two largest planets. There are also other smaller planets called dwarf planets. Pluto is one of them. Each of the planets is unique-the only one of its kind.


    The solar system is divided into two very different groups of planets- the inner planets and the outer planets.  The inner planets are closer to each other than the outer planets.  Other differences between the inner and outer planets are their sizes and the materials they are made of.  The inner planets are called rocky planets because they are like Earth- small, dense, and rocky.  The outer planets are much larger and made mostly of gases and called gas giants.


              Our solar system is a small part of a galaxy. Galaxy is the name given to a large system of stars, planets, gas, and dust. Gravity holds a galaxy together. Our galaxy is called the Milky Way galaxy. It has an estimated 200 billion other stars besides our own sun. At least some of these other stars have planets orbiting around them.




              Ancient people knew about the planets and could predict their motion.  They made pictures with the stars called constellations like the Big and Little Dipper.  They used the stars in the sky to decide when to plant seeds and harvest their crops.  They guided their ships by watching the stars in the sky.  Only after Galileo used the telescope to study planets did we begin our exploration of this alien world.  Now we launch satellites with giant telescopes to learn about the moon, stars, planets, comets and asteroids.




              A comet is an icy body that orbits the sun. At the center of a comet is a small, solid ball made of several gases, water, and dust that are frozen into a kind of dirty snowball. Sometimes it can also be made of rock.  As a comet gets closer to the sun, its icy body begins to melt, releasing gas and dust. The solar winds push against the coma, making a tail that streams from the nucleus.


              In between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter are many thousands of rocks. These rocks orbit the sun, just like the planets do. They are called asteroids. These asteroids form a ring as they orbit the sun. This ring is called the asteroid belt.

    A meteor appears when a chunk of metallic or stony matter enters the Earth's atmosphere from outer space. Air friction heats the meteoroid so that it glows. It creates a shining trail of gases and melted meteoroid particles. Most meteoroids burn up before reaching the Earth. Some leave a trail that lasts several seconds. Millions of meteors occur in the Earth's atmosphere every day.


    Be able to define the following terms:





    Solar System





    Asteroid belt







    Know the order of the 8 planets

    Know the number of hours in a day

    Know the number of days in a year

    Know the order of the seasons