Science Projects for Sixth-Graders About Planets

Your middle school student can study the elliptical patterns of the planets.
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By the end of elementary school, or beginning of middle school, sixth-graders are learning about earth and space sciences topics such as space systems and the Earth's history, according to the Next Generation Science Standards from the National Science Teachers Association . If you're looking for a grade-level appropriate project, consider helping your sixth-grade student to create massive models, in-depth planetary explorations and imaginative essay-type reports.

1 Super-Sized Solar System

Your sixth-grade student can create a model of the solar system on a grand scale for her next earth sciences project. According to the Next Generation Science Standards, middle school students should understand the scale of the solar system. Play up this science content and have your student use papier-mâché planets to create a scale model. Inflate balloons to different sizes, making each one the size-scale of each planet and the sun. Cover the balloons in papier-mâché covered construction paper. After the planets dry, paint them with the appropriate colors. Use a tape measure and yarn to space out the planets into a scale orbit to help your student see just how vast the solar system is. If the model is too large to leave out as is or to transport, snap a photo to document the science activity.

2 Topographic Topics

Sixth-grade science students can explore the topography of different planets through an investigative research project. Check out a planet-themed book such as "The Planets: A Journey Through the Solar System" by Giles Sparrow or "13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System" by David A. Aguilar, or go to an authoritative source -- such as NASA's website -- to learn about the geology of one specific planet. Your student can create his own topographic map of one planet's surface, covering a piece of cardboard with modeling clay and paint to make a colorful, raised space.

3 Imagination Station

Connect the scientific study of habitats to other planets in the solar system, helping your student to identify environments on celestial bodies and creating imaginary creatures to live on them. The website suggests that students imagine what type of life could live in different "habitats" on a non-Earth planet. By the time that your student is in middle school, she has the ability to understand that these organisms aren't real animals that actually live on other planets and can make up her own imaginative critters and creatures that match up with the cold, hot or light gravitational environments.

4 Creative Colonization

If your student wonders what would happen if he -- and the rest of Earth's population -- had to move to the moon or another planet he can create his own escape plan. NASA suggests that middle school students explore this concept by creating their own lunar colony, basing it on what they know about the moon and what humans need to survive on this non-Earth-like body. Your student can create a written plan of what the colony would look like, what it would need to keep humans alive and how humans could get there. Extend the learning into other bodies on the solar system, asking your student to create a plan to transform the surface of Saturn or Mars to a potentially life-supporting habitat. The student can also create his own mini model of a colonization station, including what the buildings would look like and what additional support -- such as a bubble enclosing the entire habitat -- is necessary.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.