The Search for a New World

A Webquest for Fifth Grade Students

By Bradford L. Wolfe

|Introduction| Task| Process| Resources| Evaluation| Conclusion| Teacher Notes



     The year is 2051.  The Earth has depleted all of its natural resources.  Life on this planet is quickly becoming extinct.  Our only hope of  keeping  life "alive", is to move on, away from this planet to begin again in a new environment, on a new planet.  You must help us!  We need you to determine which planet will become our new home.  But you must hurry!  According to our top scientists, dangerous gases have been forming around our atmosphere for years, giving us just a few precious days left before life as we know it will cease to exist.  You have 21 days to save us, or we all die!  The countdown has begun!


     You have been teamed with three other scientists to research eight planets from our solar system.  Your group must use the research to decide which planet will be the most appropriate place to relocate Earth life-forms.  Once your decision has been made, each scientist will complete the requirements for their individual specialty.  To review your requirements, press your specialty button. 


     When each specialist has completed their requirements, you will present your information to The International Star Command Board of Advisors during an open forum.  All research groups will present their findings in an effort to persuade the advisors to choose their planet for life-form relocation.


1.  Meet with your assigned team of four scientists.

2.  Assign each team member two planets to research for future life-form relocation.

3.  Print one page of the Planetary Relocation Research Guide for each planet.  Use the guide to assist you in logging the necessary information needed to compare the various planets.

4.  Research your assigned planets and complete the guide for each.

5.  Reconvene with your team to compare and contrast each of the eight planets.  

6.  As a team, decide upon the planet you feel is the most appropriate for life-form relocation.

7.  Decide upon the areas of specialty for each of your team members.

8.  Go to the requirements page for your specialty area and complete your tasks.

9.  Reconvene with your team and present your work to them.

10.  As a team, present your findings to the Planet Relocation Advisors Board at the Relocation Convention.

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All research should be done using the following internet websites.



*University of Arizona

*Solar Views


*NASA Spacefly

*Kids Astronomy

*How stuff works



*Space Colony








*What They Do



The work of each scientist will be evaluated according to the rubric assigned to their area of specialty.  To check your rubric, press your specialty button.



When your missions are complete, the entire human race will applaud your efforts.  The world will be saved, life will continue, and you will have learned quite a bit about your solar system.  Your quest will take you through an exploration of the nine planets and their attributes, including their planetary composition, atmosphere, and locations in relation to the earth, sun, and other planets.  You will learn about the space program, including spaceships, spacesuits, and our chances for planetary colonization. 

This quest will also inform you about career choices and their importance.  Perhaps your career path will begin to emerge after you complete your mission.  You'll also learn about animals and their value to the human race. 

Finally, the most important thing you'll learn by undertaking this mission, is that the Earth is a very special place.  No other planet offers the beauty, the spirit, or the opportunities for life to grow and expand.  We live on a relatively tiny planet, in the far reaches of a very large galaxy, nestled in the arms of a tremendously grand universe...and you just learned all about it!

If you'd like to learn more about our solar system, here are a few suggestions:

*Videos:  "The Planets"  (Star Trek's Patrick Stewart and cool music!)

                "Bill Nye the Science Guy:  The Planets"  (Bill...Bill...Bill!!!)

                "NOVA:  Adventures in Science"  (Awesome collection!)

                *All the above videos are available in our classroom video library.

*Books:  Eye on the Universe by Bobbie Kalman  (Crabtree, 1997)

              Galaxies by Seymour Simon  (Junior Books, 1988)

              The Golden Book of Space Exploration by Dinah Moche  (Western,   


              The Solar System Facts and Exploration by Gregory Vogt  (Holt, 1995)

              Space Stations:  Living and Working by Amanda Davis  (Rosen, 1997)

              To Space and Back by Sally Ride  (Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, 1986)

*Projects:  Models to Build  (Plans to build model spaceships and lunar-landers.)

                 Solar System Model  (Scale plans to create the universe with toilet 

                 paper...great extension that gives students perspective!)

Teacher Notes

Grade Level:  This quest is designed for fifth and sixth grade students, but can be adapted to both lower and upper grade levels.

Materials Needed:  Computers with internet access, blue graph paper (blueprint paper), large poster boards, colored pencils, crayons, or markers, student imaginations.

Pre-teaching Activites:  There are many fine science fiction books that are appropriate for the fifth grade level, including Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time where Meg Murray and her little brother Charles travel on an exciting journey through space.  Literature connections are wonderful ways to segue to your ultimate goals.  I normally introduce the unit through mathematics, where we use model rockets to track the height and trajectories of individual rockets.  After charting the data, we begin to imagine ourselves on those rockets in a race against time to save our lives.  It works wonders in creating excitement for the web quest.  Perhaps you have a few ideas of your own...capture their imagination and release their minds!

Curriculum Coverage:  This quest covers various subject areas, however, the primary focus is the solar system.  This quest covers the following Pennsylvania State Science Curriculum Standards for fifth grade:

*Students will be able to identify and describe various components of the solar system.

*Students will be able to describe and compare/contrast major characteristics and features of the planets.

*Students will be able to compare positions of bodies in the solar system.

*Students will recognize space probes and space stations as tools for exploration.

This web quest fits the NETS Science and Technology Standards for the use of internet resources to research and develop technological designs for solutions or products.

Curriculum Coverage Time:  This quest takes approximately 4 - 5 weeks to cover.  Extensions will increase the amount of time needed.


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