When the Planets Align…Or Not!

Students who have recently completed a unit on planetary science were charged with the task of designing a project, to culminate their unit on planetary science.  The required elements of the project design were collaboration, creativity, and teamwork in order that  in some way the unique knowledge they had gained from their research was synthesized into a greater understanding– to see relationships and just how the pieces fit.  Each child had focused their research on one planet, or the sun, or stars.  They were advised to keep it simple since this was their first project in Second Life and they decided to build models of the solar system.  As the four classes proceeded, they ran across problems with duplicate planets being assigned to the same sun- so they allowed for this by adding a last day discussion where they would justify both the dimensions and placement of their planet in relationship to the anchor sun, and decide which was most correct. I have spent a good deal of time “cleaning up” stray planets, moons and prims that didn’t quite make it into orbit but the kids have independently mastered many more skills than those that were originally designed into the unit.  Next week we will finish texturizing, adding rotation and orbit scripts and remove the “target line” used for establishing basic placement.  Not exact science- but the conversations going on  (and we know it’s ALL about the conversation) have been fantastic.  Moving beyond the, “Hey, Get your Mercury out of the way of my Venus,” the kids have been sharing facts, figures, and myths associated with their planets….they are teaching each other…they are sharing their expertise…they are the experts.   Awesome job kids!