This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Select language   >   IT EN RO PL LT

Collection of Lesson Plan

Let's go into orbit!

Subject taught
- Math
- Physics

Language Skills Developed
- Interaction
- Listening
- Reading
- Speaking
- Writing

Transferable/Scientific Skills Developed
To be able to frame the scientific findings in a historical contest.
To know and to understand the gravitational law and the consequences, for example the motion of planets and satellites
To know , to understand and to explain the three laws of Kepler
To observe the world around us with curiosity to understand at least in part the technology that we use every day.
To develop critical thought to be able to see the positive and negative consequences of scientific findings and technological applications.

The general aims are
1. to get the students to understand that Physics is a discipline closely linked to other disciplines ,in particular History, Philosophy and Science .The development of scientific thought with its subsequent discoveries and applications must be framed in a historical ,logical and chronological context.
2. To acquire and to interpret information in a critical way through different contexts and through different communicative instruments.
3. To estimate scientific credibility of the source and to discern the difference between facts and opinions.
4. To communicate and to understand different languages (daily, technical, literary, scientific) and to use them in different contexts.
The linguistic aims are to teach students a correct scientific language . They will have to read or to watch and to understand a scientific article or video. They will have to use a correct language when they have to explain a scientific topic.
The specific aims are:
1. to introduce Kepler’s laws and Newton’s law about universal gravitation through a historical approach. To let the students know the different theories and opinions of Philosophers , Astronomers, Scientists from the antiquity to this day and in different parts of the world.
2. to know and to understand the three laws of Kepler describing the motion of the planets and the satellites. Mathematical aims are to know the conic sections and in particular to learn the ellipse : its equation and its features.
3. to learn, to understand the importance of Newton’s law of universal gravitation.
4. To be able to resolve simple exercises and to know the reason why the satellites are in orbit.
5. to know different types of satellites and where they orbit, to understand how they work and how they are helping us in our daily life.

• Target group age 16/18 years old

• Level of competence in English (CEFR) B1-B2

• Time: 7/8 hours

Different phases to complete the lesson plan
Phase 1: Geocentric vs Heliocentric model of the universe and Heliocentric model-Universe today. Two hours to watch the video and to read the article. The teacher presents the video and comments with the class. The teacher must enrich the resource with explanations. But it would be even more useful and interesting the co-presence of the philosophy teacher who might further enrich the argument with historical, social and political information about the time and place where these scientists lived and about their life. The students read the article for homework.
Phase 2: Explained In 5 Questions: Kepler's Law of Planetary Motion | Encyclopaedia Britannica. An hour to watch the video and to add the explanation of the topic. The second hour is dedicated to the introduction of the conic sections. The students already know about the circle and the parabola and this is the moment to start with the mathematical study of the ellipse. The teacher must point out the connection between the equation and the graph and the importance of eccentricity. This resource is useful to introduce the conic section in Maths.
Phase 3: Calculating the gravitational force and Orbital Velocity Explained. An hour to watch the first video, to add explanation and to do some exercises. Through the exercises the students understand that this force is so small to become insignificant if it is applied to little objects , but it becomes very important when it is applied to masses like the earth and the planets.
It can be an interesting exercise to calculate the different gravity accelerations on other planets.
The second hour is used to watch the other video (homework)

Phase 4: How do satellites work? And Artificial satellites- science learning hub. The first hour is dedicated to watch the first video and to open a discussion with the students to understand how much they know about the satellites and if they are aware that whenever they use for example the cell phone, the television or the internet they exploit the work of the satellites. The teacher will help the students to get to know other types of satellites and how they are used . It is important for the teacher to focus the discussion about the very use that men can make of the satellites.
The teacher will assign the second resource as home study and he will ask to find additional resources.

Phase 5: Let’s go into orbit! The teacher presents the video to the class as a revision and to learn new vocabulary. The resource Orbit is given as homework and the students are asked to learn the new vocabulary

Phase 6: The quest to conquer Earth’s space junk problem.
The first hour is used to read the article, to watch the videos inside it and to open a discussion with the students to understand how much they know about this big problem. Then the teacher splits the students into groups and gives each of them to look up additional resources as homework: one group must find scientific articles about space junk, the other must find about hints and opinions of scientists or other people to solve the problem of the overpopulation of zombie satellites. They must choose which resource they want to share and must present it in the next lesson. The second hour is used to look at and to comment on the new resources. This is the most delicate phase because the students must express their opinion. The first group presents the problem and the other group answers with their opinions. The lesson is carried out by the students as in a debate with the teacher as a moderator.

Possible difficulties for the students
1. to place the scientific findings in their historical contest
2. to understand the second law and the consequent variation of speed of the planets. Instead the third law is often forgotten.
3. to understand how the centrifugal force and the gravitational force work to maintain satellites in orbit.

Teaching Resources (created)

Teaching Resources (reviewed)

Related Video Lessons

Let's go in to orbit!