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Friday, September 2, 2011

A Simple Formative Assessment for Planets Unit

Oh,  for  those  simple  ideas!
Here is a simple idea for an informative assessment:
Rotate/Revolve Model

Make this simple model to demonstrate the differences between rotation and revolution.

Thread a practice golf ball onto a pipe cleaner.  Twist the pipe cleaner closed, to make a loop. 

To show rotation: spin the ball.

To show revolution: slide the ball around the pipe cleaner.

The materials are so simple and inexpensive, you could make a classroom set of these and have students try it out themselves.  

You can make a larger scale model using a hula hoop and a wiffle ball.  You will have to cut part of the ball open to get it around the hula hoop. 
This idea was from this great, creative blog:
Personal Note: When I went to the dollar store to look for the practice golf balls, but they were unavailable. They did have practice baseballs for 4 for $1.00 so I went with that. Then I adapted the orbit pathway to 2 pipecleaners.
Even though this assessment may seem too simple to be effective, let me assure you that it is not. I tested it on 6 teachers, and I could tell that two teachers had no idea the difference between revolve and rotate. This is probably because they learned science by completing worksheets instead of “doing and discussing.”
Next section in my unit is The Moon….  I’m Thinking……..

I wonder ... would double stuff oreos be even better?



  1. Great ideas---thanks so much for sharing.

  2. This will be perfect for my Earth Science students! Thanks for posting.

  3. Yes, I have done teacher training and some do not know themselves the difference- especially if they are not science specialists and haven't had the lesson since 3rd or 4th grade! I wanted to share with you, my activity for really assessing Lunar Cycle and incorporating art into Science. Please check out my wearable lunar cycle project at I think you will be amazed at how well children remember the phases of the moon after making their Tee-shirt or apron! Enjoy!


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