Lori Berger, Miriam Pohlig, Jocelyn Hess
In Mrs. Martinez’s 6th grade
classroom, the class begins
their discussion on the planet
“Does anyone know the three layers of the
Earth?” Mrs. Martinez asks.
“Well, there is a top, a middle and a
bottom, isn’t there?” Phillip says.
“Yes, there is,” says Mrs. Martinez, “but
does anyone know there specific
GeeGee raises her hand and answers,
“I remember reading that the
outermost layer is the crust, the middle
layer is the mantle, and the center
layer is the core.”
“Great answer GeeGee! Now let’s review what the layers are
made of,” says Mrs. Martinez. “The core is made of the elements
iron and nickel, and is the most dense layer of the Earth. The
mantle is made of different types of relatively dense rock, and is
the largest layer. The crust is the outer most layer, the ground that
we walk on, and is made of less dense rocks composed of
oxygen and silicon.”
Linda, with a puzzled look on her
face asks, “What about the other
planets in the solar system? What
are they made of?”
“That’s a great question, Linda,”
says Mrs. Martinez. “Why don’t we
go to the computer and research
some of them to find out.”
As the students gather
around the computer, the
computer begins to flicker
and flash, and suddenly they
are zapped into the screen.
“That was a sweet ride, but where are we?”
“Well, by the looks of it, I would say that we
are standing on Mars,” says Mrs. Martinez.
“How can you tell?” exclaimed the class.
“Well, one unique attribute of Mars is that
it is red, much like what we are now
standing on.” Mrs. Martinez answers.
“Can anyone see any similarities
between Mars and Earth?” asks Mrs.
“It looks to me like Mars is also
composed of dense rocks,” GeeGee
“CORRECT! Just like Earth, the
other three planets closet to the sun,
known as the inner planets- Mercury
Venus and Mars, are made of dense
rocks that contain a lot of the
elements iron, magnesium and
“If Mars is composed of dense rock
like the Earth, why can’t humans live
on it?” asks Linda.
“Well Linda,” states Mrs. Martinez, “Mars’
atmosphere is not suitable for human life.
Unlike Earth’s atmosphere, which is
composed mostly of oxygen, Mars has a
much thinner atmosphere composed of
over 95% carbon dioxide, which is
harmful to humans.”
“OOHHHH!!!” sighed the class in unison.
As the students discuss their new
knowledge of the inner planets, Julie
wonders out loud, “Does anyone know
where Hammy is?”
The students look around and soon find
Hammy standing next to a space shuttle. The
students then pile in, with Mrs. Martinez at the
wheel, and blast off to another planet.
Soon Mrs. Martinez tells the class to look out their
windows at the planet Jupiter as they hover in
Linda asks, “Why can’t we get out?”
“Well you see Linda, unlike the
first four planets, the next four
planets, including Jupiter, Saturn,
Uranus, and Neptune are
considered gaseous planets,
because they are made of light
elements such as hydrogen and
helium. So if we were to try and
land, there would be no hard
surface to land on.”
“Mrs. Martinez?” asks Julie,
“What are the dark and light
belts surrounding Jupiter?”
“Those belts are part of the
atmosphere, which is also mainly
hydrogen and helium. Within these
belts are storm systems. An example
of this is the great red spot that you
can see. This storm system has lasted
over 300 years!!!”
As the class travels to their next destination, Phillip glances out
the window and notices something around one of the planets.
He then asks Mrs. Martinez, “What are those around that
“I am glad you asked,” says Mrs.
Martinez. “Those happen to be the
rings of Saturn, which consist of ice
and water, and may even include
rocky particles with ice coatings. The
reason that the rings are made of ice
and not just water is because Saturn
is located so far away from the Sun
that the heat from the sun doesn’t
“OHH, no wonder I was getting cold,”
“Well, you are about to get a lot colder.
We are headed to Pluto, the smallest
and the coldest of the nine planets,”
teased Mrs. Martinez.
“Just how cold is it, Mrs. Martinez?”
“Well Tom, Pluto is approximately
negative 400 degrees Fahrenheit,”
answers Mrs. Martinez. “Does anyone
know why it is so cold?”
“Well since Pluto is the furthest
away from the Sun it doesn’t
receive any heat,” replies
“That’s correct,” states Mrs.
Martinez. “Since Pluto is so far
away from the Sun it is frozen solid,
much like a block of ice, including
the gases that make up its
Julie comments, “Hey guys, I think Hammy is
getting hungry. Should we be heading back?”
“Oh my, You’re right
Julie! It’s almost lunch
time,” exclaims Mrs.
Martinez. “Everyone to
Once again the students
were zapped into the
They arrive back in class all chattering
about their unique adventure.
Once the class quiets down Mrs. Martinez
says, “I hope everyone enjoyed today’s
lesson on the inner and outer planets. With
all this excitement I sure did work up an
appetite. Lets head to lunch.”
Review discussion for Inner and
Inner Planets Outer Planets
-Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars -Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and
-Composed of dense rock made of the -Considered the gaseous planets,
elements silica, iron, and magnesium. composed of the elements hydrogen and
-Earth’s atmosphere is composed mainly of -These planets are less dense than the
oxygen which allows for human life. inner planets.
-Jupiter’s atmosphere is mainly hydrogen
and helium and forms alternating dark and
-Mars has a much thinner atmosphere light belts around the planet.
composed of mainly carbon dioxide.
-The planet Pluto is frozen most of the year,
including the gases that form its
Mercury’s surface is highly cratered and very old.
Venus is the brightest object in our solar system besides the sun and moon.
Earth’s surface is considered to be very young.
Mars has permanent ice caps at both poles.
Jupiter has a great red spot, which is a storm system that has lasted over
Saturn has very thin rings composed of ice and ice coated rock particles.
Uranus has no soil surface and spins on its side.
Neptune has winds that reach up to 600 miles per hour.
Pluto is the smallest and coldest planet and is frozen solid.