Pluto’s Planetary Status
- Before 2006, Pluto was classified as a planet like Earth, Jupiter and Mars but was redefined by astronomers as it doesn’t meet new planetary requirements. A small project for kids can involve the students investigating why Pluto’s definition was changed. Students can examine what defines a planet, and what factors separate a dwarf planet from bodies such as Earth. Students can also find the important characteristics of other dwarf planets that have been discovered and create a class presentation about these.
- Like many other planets and dwarf planets, Pluto has four moons. Students can examine what scientists know about each of the moons, taking turns using book and Internet research. Not only does each moon have characteristics that allow students to produce a fact sheet or presentation, but the moons are all given names rooted in mythology, such as Hydra. Kids can enjoy learning about the myths related to each moon name.
Traveling to Pluto
- For this project, kids should pretend they are running an interstellar travel agency that organizes trips to Pluto. Kids design a travel brochure or leaflet, either by hand or on computer, which advertises Pluto and its attractions. For this project, kids will need to find interesting facts about Pluto, and then write what they’ve learned in an attention-grabbing way. Things to mention include a comparison of Earth and Pluto, a description of what Pluto is made of, and an estimated journey time between Earth and Pluto.
- Pluto has been around for millennia but humanity’s understanding of it only began in the 20th century. With this in mind, students set out to write a biography of science’s investigation into this dwarf planet. Kids can present this biography as an essay, with a chapter on themes such as the key astronomers who are connected to Pluto, or perhaps as a timeline on a poster. The latter can contain important dates regarding Pluto, such as the probes that were launched to investigate the dwarf planet.