Dawn Classrooms > Dwarf Planet Activity

Hubble image of Ceres
Credit: NASA

The decision by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 2006 to define the terms "planet" and "dwarf planet" has caught the attention of the public and students from grade school to graduate school.

A New Way

The Asteroid Belt Dwarf Planets as a New Way of Thinking About an Old Solar System
This middle school activity, developed for NASA’s Dawn mission, utilizes a researched-based instructional strategy called direct vocabulary instruction to help students understand the new definitions of planet and dwarf planet.
Grades 5-8
1-3 days
- Teacher Guide (PDF)
- Student Activity (PDF)

Evolution of Language

Lucy McFadden, E/PO Director, Co-Investigator, University of Maryland Examples in the Evolution of Language
- Essay (PDF)


Mark Sykes Podcasts From Mark Sykes
- 'What Makes a Planet?' Lecture (QT)
- What's A Planet, Anyway?(MP3)

The Debate

The Great Planet Debate Logo Great Planet Debate
An educator's workshop was held on August 16, 2008 to provide a forum on how the planet debate can be used to spark scientific inquiry in the classroom.
- Official Great Planet Debate poster (JPG)
- Learn more about the GPD Conference
- Video-onDemand