Astronomy Unit Study: Unit Four – Planet Venus

Welcome to unit four of our astronomy studies!  Lately, we have been learning all about Planet Venus. As before, we have been using Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy. Also, I have access to Everyday Astronomy from School House Teachers, as well as lots of bits and pieces I used with my older ones that I have collected over the years:

astronomy unit study

Facts about Planet Venus

Venus is the second planet closest to the sun, and the planet which looks the most similar to earth.  It is terrestrial, like earth, and is almost the same size.  It is the hottest planet on account of its proximity to the sun, and its thick atmosphere which traps in the heat.  Unlike Planet Mercury, it does not lose any heat over night.

Astronomy Unit: Planet Venus

Astronomy Unit: Planet Venus

The girls wrote down lots of facts and did some copywork:

Astronomy Unit: Planet Venus

Astronomy Unit: Planet Venus

They coloured in a comic strip I had found on Practical Pages:

Astronomy Unit: Planet Venus

Astronomy Unit: Planet Venus

The girls learnt a bit online about the exploration of Venus, and filled in a fun, volcanic mini book:

Astronomy Unit: Planet Venus

Astronomy Unit: Planet Venus

Demonstrating how Radars are Used to Explore Uninhabitable Planets

Venus is not only inhabitable, it is too dangerous for any manned or unmanned spaceship to land for any length of time.  This means that to gather information about its environment, engineers need to use a radar to map Venus’ surface.

The girls created a ‘pretend surface’ of Planet Venus in a box from Legos.  The Lego mimicked the surface by having tall (volcanic) regions and low (valley) regions.  The box was handily just the right size for the grids (provided with the work books) to be taped onto.  They covered a needle in different coloured strips at one inch intervals:

Astronomy Unit: Planet Venus

This needle was then pushed into the first square on the grid by B7 and the spare grid was coloured with the corresponding colour depth from the needle:

The girls took it in turns until each grid square had been poked by the needle and the second grid coloured:

We used post it tags for ease and speed:

As you can see, the two grids are identical:

The photo below shows the radar map of planet Lego (with yellow representing the very highest regions and pink representing the very lowest regions):

The girls really enjoyed doing this activity, and it demonstrated easily how a radar works.

Exploration of How Lava has Changed the Surface of Planet Venus

Venus is covered with volcanoes which are continuously erupting.  The constant spewing of lava, which cools down to create the landscape of Venus, means Venus is always changing.  For this demonstration we created a volcano from flour:

The girls gently melted some butter in a double boiler:

I poured the melted butter on the top of the flour volcano, and let it run down its sides:

The butter created pathways in the flour as it flowed down the model volcano.  It cooled fairly quickly and solidified, instantly changing the landscape of the volcano:

The girls had fun poking away at it 🙂

A Demonstration to Show the Effects Atmosphere has on the Temperature of Planet Venus

This was a simple demonstration using two pans (one with a lid) of cold water.  The cold water is heated up on the hob.  The lid acts as the thick atmosphere does on planet Venus, by trapping the heat, and causing it to heat up much quicker and keep its heat for much longer:

These are the pans after a few minutes on the heat.  The right one (lidded) is already showing signs of imminent boiling at the edges of the pan, whilst the left one (no lid) is just starting to collect tiny bubbles at its bottom:

  • Left (no lid):

  • Right (with lid):

  • Just a few short seconds later, the lidded pan is boiling away:

  • Whilst its unlidded mate is still only collecting bubbles at its base:

Creative Writing about a Trip to Planet Venus

I had the girls write a quick, short essay about a pretend trip they took to Venus:

 

Acrostic Poetry about Planet Venus

The girls’ English assignment is all about acrostic poetry.  Instead of using a completely arbitrary topic to write their poems about, I had them write a couple about planet Venus, using the facts they had been learning over the past few weeks.  First, they did a simple one word per letter acrostic.  A9 did her one very well on her own, and I gave a little help to B7.  Next, I taught them about a slightly more advanced acrostic poem, using sentences.  Both girls got the hang of these very quickly and did a great job together:

For more Astronomy posts click on the following links:

1) Astronomy Presentation from my teens when they were younger:

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2) Astronomy Unit One: Solar System:

3) Astronomy Unit Two: The Sun

Astronomy Unit Study (Sun)

3 comments

  1. You are one of the most creative mums I know with home Ed !

    I think you should open a school for homeschoolers ! At least one day a week – I would be honoured for my children to learn under such a gift ! You have so much in you that God has given truly !!! Stand amazed at you my dear friend

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