SC.8.E.5.1

Recognize that there are enormous distances between objects in space and apply our knowledge of light and space travel to understand this distance.
General Information
Subject Area: Science
Grade: 8
Body of Knowledge: Earth and Space Science
Idea: Level 2: Basic Application of Skills & Concepts
Big Idea: Earth in Space and Time - The origin and eventual fate of the Universe still remains one of the greatest questions in science. Gravity and energy influence the formation of galaxies, including our own Milky Way Galaxy, stars, the planetary systems, and Earth. Humankind’s need to explore continues to lead to the development of knowledge and understanding of the nature of the Universe.
Date Adopted or Revised: 02/08
Date of Last Rating: 05/08
Status: State Board Approved
Assessed: Yes

Related Courses

This benchmark is part of these courses.
2002100: M/J Comprehensive Science 3 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2002110: M/J Comprehensive Science 3, Advanced (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2001010: M/J Earth/Space Science (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2001020: M/J Earth/Space Science, Advanced (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
7820017: Access M/J Comprehensive Science 3 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2018, 2018 and beyond (current))
2002085: M/J Comprehensive Science 2 Accelerated Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2001025: M/J STEM Astronomy and Space Science (Specifically in versions: 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))

Related Access Points

Alternate version of this benchmark for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
SC.8.E.5.In.1: Compare the distances of the Moon, the Sun, and other stars from the Earth.
SC.8.E.5.Su.1: Identify the relative positions of the Sun and the Moon from Earth.
SC.8.E.5.Pa.1: Recognize that the Moon is closer to Earth than the Sun.

Related Resources

Vetted resources educators can use to teach the concepts and skills in this benchmark.

Lesson Plans

Proxima b: How Earth-like Is It?:

In this lesson, students will analyze an  intended to support reading in the content area.  The article showcases the recent discovery of a planet orbiting our nearest star that may have the necessary ingredients to harbor life.  The possibly Earth-like planet is 4 light years away, however.  How might we explore it in greater detail?  The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric. Numerous options to extend the lesson are also included.

Type: Lesson Plan

How Many Smoots Does It Take to Reach the Moon? :

In this discovery oriented lesson, students will explore the use of non-standard units of measurement. They will convert linear measurements within the metric system and also convert measurements given in astronomical units (AU) into more familiar units, specifically meters and kilometers. The unit conversions will be completed with measurements that are expressed in scientific notation. Students will recall their prior knowledge of how to add and subtract numbers given in scientific notation. They will also use their knowledge of exponent rules to determine an efficient method for multiplying and dividing numbers expressed in scientific notation.

Type: Lesson Plan

Rockets To Pluto:

Students will explore current space technology and explore the possibilities of traveling to Pluto. Students will participate in an Engineering Design Challenge in which they will construct and test their rockets to see how far they can go!

An Engineering Design Challenge is a combination of project-based learning, design thinking, and the engineering design process that develops the innovator's mindset through iteration. This lets students use their own imaginations to design projects according to science and engineering processes.

Type: Lesson Plan

Expanding the Universe:

Students will draw three dots on an unblown balloon to represent three different galaxies. They will measure the distance between these "galaxies" and then blow up the balloon in three stages, measuring the distance between the "galaxies" at each stage.

Type: Lesson Plan

Quest For Life: Space Exploration:

Students must decide the destination of a multi-billion dollar space flight to an unexplored world. The location must be selected based on its potential for valuable research opportunities. Some locations may have life, while others could hold the answers to global warming or our energy crisis. Students must choose the destination that they feel will be most helpful to human-kind.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Measuring the Universe:

This activity will help students understand why astronomers use large units and scientific notation to describe distances in the universe.

Type: Lesson Plan

Lesson 2 Voyage of Discovery:

This lesson allows students to model and compare the distance of planets from the Sun, as well as, compare the relative sizes of the planets using everyday items.

Type: Lesson Plan

Space Telescope: Optics and the EM Spectrum:

In this MEA, students will:

  • identify and compare characteristics of the electromagnetic spectrum such as wavelength, frequency, and energy.
  • understand the benefits of studying astronomy using the electromagnetic spectrum and appreciate the amount of knowledge available through data and observations such as planetary images and satellite photographs.
  • assess the value of technology in science for such purposes as access to outer space and other remote locations, sample collection, measurement, data collection and storage, computation, and communication of information.
  • be able to describe the vast distances between objects in space using an understanding of light and how it travels.
  • be able to analyze scientific texts and support their findings with textual evidence.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Original Student Tutorial

Challenges of Space Travel:

Explore the challenges related to space travel in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Teaching Idea

Pocket Solar System:

This model gives students an overview of the distances between the orbits of the planets and other objects in our solar system.

Type: Teaching Idea

Text Resources

Sun's Nearest Stellar Neighbor May Have Earth-Like Planet:

This resource is intended to support reading in the content area. The text includes information on a newly discovered planet that orbits the nearest star to our sun. Proxima b, while close, is actually quite far—more than four light years from our sun—yet it shows potential for life, close enough for the planet to receive radiation and energy from its star. The article also discusses the possibility of sending robotic missions there using new technology that could perhaps reach the planet in twenty years.

Type: Text Resource

A "Goldilocks" World?:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. The article describes how astronomers have found a new exoplanet, Kepler-186f, orbiting a distant star. Research suggests that this planet is in the habitable "Goldilocks" zone—not too close and not too far—of the red dwarf star it orbits. If the planet is in the habitable zone, it mimics the earth/sun relationship we have, and astronomers believe liquid water might be present on this planet. Water, of course, is the key to (extraterrestrial) life.

Type: Text Resource

STEM Lessons - Model Eliciting Activity

Quest For Life: Space Exploration:

Students must decide the destination of a multi-billion dollar space flight to an unexplored world. The location must be selected based on its potential for valuable research opportunities. Some locations may have life, while others could hold the answers to global warming or our energy crisis. Students must choose the destination that they feel will be most helpful to human-kind.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Space Telescope: Optics and the EM Spectrum:

In this MEA, students will:

  • identify and compare characteristics of the electromagnetic spectrum such as wavelength, frequency, and energy.
  • understand the benefits of studying astronomy using the electromagnetic spectrum and appreciate the amount of knowledge available through data and observations such as planetary images and satellite photographs.
  • assess the value of technology in science for such purposes as access to outer space and other remote locations, sample collection, measurement, data collection and storage, computation, and communication of information.
  • be able to describe the vast distances between objects in space using an understanding of light and how it travels.
  • be able to analyze scientific texts and support their findings with textual evidence.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Original Student Tutorials Science - Grades K-8

Challenges of Space Travel:

Explore the challenges related to space travel in this interactive tutorial.

Student Resources

Vetted resources students can use to learn the concepts and skills in this benchmark.

Original Student Tutorial

Challenges of Space Travel:

Explore the challenges related to space travel in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Parent Resources

Vetted resources caregivers can use to help students learn the concepts and skills in this benchmark.