Space: Cullman students learn planets with creative projects

East Elementary School students show off their planet presentations recently as part of their space studies curriculum. (Cullman City Schools)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Elementary students in Cullman City Schools spent recent weeks learning about space and the planets that make up our solar system by going hands on and making a few planets themselves.

Sixth graders at East Elementary spent the past week making presentations and showing off their hands-on projects going deep on everything you might want to know about Earth’s celestial neighbors in the sky. The project was part of the planetary systems unit, and East Elementary science teacher Beth Collins said it provided a unique way for students to relax and have fun with their classmates, while still learning the unit as part of their science curriculum.

The projects cover Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, comets, the asteroid belt, asteroids and meteors. Students used their craft skills to create 3D visual models of their assigned planet or celestial body, along with a digital presentation with facts and details.

“One group that was assigned Mars created a tiny rover that rested on their model Mars, out of modeling clay and painted it. Another group suspended their model planet and placed small LED lights inside a box to resemble stars,” Collins said. “To represent the rings of Saturn, a group used a CD and glued two half-Styrofoam balls on either side to complete their planet. Another creative example was a group used a baseball for Mercury, with the seams of the baseball representing the mountains.”

She noted several groups incorporated short video clips within their Google Slides presentation, and went into detail on their models with craters present on the surface of their planet, moons, and the interior of their planets.

“The students had a blast working together researching, designing, and creating their projects.  Each day the students were excited to get to class and begin working towards completion of their project,” Collins said. “After all of the presentations were completed, the students completed a comment card for each group, with other groups writing a positive comment about another group’s presentation or model. The students enjoyed reading kind comments from their classmates and it made all the hard work seem worth it, even before they saw their final grade.”