Grade 6 Earth and Space Systems
Lesson Summary: Students will create an interactive simulation to identify components of the solar system and describe
their main physical characteristics
Curriculum Expectations: These expectations are intended to highlight the many ways in which this lesson could support
the curriculum. It is neither expected nor necessary for teachers to address all of these expectations at once. Teachers
are encouraged to select the most relevant expectations based on their unique context and intentions for the lesson.
Science & Technology
Language - Writing
Overall Expectations
A2. use coding in investigations and
to model concepts, and assess the
impact of coding and of emerging
technologies on everyday life and in
STEM related fields
A3. demonstrate an understanding of
the practical applications of science
and technology, and of contributions
to science and technology from
people with diverse lived experiences
E2. demonstrate an understanding of
the solar system, the phenomena
that result from the movement of
different bodies within it, and the
technologies used in space
Specific Expectations
A2.1 write and execute code in
investigations and when modelling
concepts, with a focus on obtaining
input in different ways for a variety of
A2.2 identify and describe impacts of
coding and of emerging technologies
on everyday life, including skilled
A3.3 analyse contributions to science
and technology from various
E2.1 identify components of the solar
system, including the Sun, Earth and
other planets, natural satellites,
comets, asteroids, and meteoroids,
and describe their main physical
Overall Expectations
C3. solve problems and create
computational representations of
mathematical situations using coding
concepts and skills
Specific Expectations
C3.1 solve problems and
create computational
representations of mathematical
situations by writing
and executing efficient code,
including code that
involves conditional statements and
other control structures
C3.2 read and alter existing code,
including code that involves
conditional statements and other
control structures, and describe how
changes to the code affect
the outcomes and the efficiency of
the code
Overall Expectations
1. Generate, gather, and organize
ideas and information to write for an
intended purpose and audience
2. draft and revise their writing, using
a variety of informational, literary,
and graphic forms and stylistic
elements appropriate for the purpose
and audience
Specific Expectations
1.1 identify the topic, purpose,
audience, and form for writing
1.2 generate ideas about a potential
topic, using a variety of strategies and
1.3 gather information to support
ideas for writing in a variety of ways
and/or from a variety of sources
1.4 sort ideas and information for
their writing in a variety of ways
2.1 write short texts using a variety of
2.3 use words and phrases that will
help convey their meaning as
specifically as possible
2.4 vary sentence structures and
maintain continuity by using joining
words (e.g., and, or) to combine
simple sentences and using words
that indicate time and sequence to
link sentences
3.4 use punctuation to help
communicate their intended
meaning, with a focus on the use of:
quotation marks to indicate direct
speech; commas to mark
grammatical boundaries within
sentences; capital letters and final
punctuation to mark the beginning
and end of sentences
3.8 produce pieces of published work
to meet identified criteria based on
the expectations related to content,
organization, style, use of
conventions, and use of presentation
Breaking Down the Coding Expectations in Science & Technology:
In the Grade 6 Science & Technology curriculum, there are 2 coding related expectations:
A2.1 write and execute code in investigations and when modelling concepts, with a focus on obtaining input
in different ways for a variety of purposes
A2.2 identify and describe impacts of coding and of emerging technologies on everyday life
To paraphrase these expectations and express them in plainer language, students are being asked to:
write code to demonstrate a science-related concept, focusing on writing code that asks the user to provide
information or data
show how coding impacts our lives
Both expectations will be addressed through the project.
Learning Goals: We are learning to write code to create an interactive simulation that identifies components of the solar
system and describes their main physical characteristics
Success Criteria:
1. I can use a variety of event blocks to trigger different parts of my simulation
2. I can use conditionals to respond to data in my code
3. I can use a variety of blocks to seek input from my user
4. I can represent different components of the solar system
5. I can provide important information about the physical characteristics of the components of the solar system
STEM Profile:
Have you ever dreamed of going to space? Roberta Bondar was the first Canadian
woman in space (and the second Canadian overall)! She flew aboard the American
space shuttle Discovery in 1992. With a background in neurology (the study of the
nervous system), she has also been a pioneer in researching space medicine.
On top of loving space, Roberta is a passionate nature photographer who uses her art
to educate people about environmental protection. Roberta says that the experience
of being in space “changed my life and my attitude toward myself”. To share this
experience with the world, she has even taken photos in space and published them in
a book, Touching the Earth.
Like Roberta, we will be using our knowledge and love for space to help others
understand our solar system.
Minds On:
1. Students will have different experience levels when it comes to coding.
a. If students have never experienced coding before, please watch the “What is Coding?” video.
b. If students have experienced coding before, have a quick discussion in which students share their definition
of coding. Some responses to look for include:
i. Coding is the language that computers speak
ii. Coding is how we talk to computers or get computers to do what we want
iii. Coding is the instructions that we give to a computer
2. Introduce the idea of input, which is data or information that is provide by the user or programmer. The data or
information is then used, in some way, to influence the outcome of the code. A real life example would be if you
ask someone what their favourite flavour of ice cream is (seeking their input) and they respond that it is chocolate
(the data or information) and you use that response to determine what flavour of ice cream to purchase for a treat
(using the data to influence the outcome).
Discussion: Can students think of a real-life example of a time when they have sought input?
3. In small groups or as a whole class, brainstorm with students ideas for their interactive simulation. Some sample
prompts include:
o What are the main components of our solar system?
o What are the similarities/differences between the main components of our solar system?
o When talking about the main components of our solar system, what are the most important
characteristics that others should know?
Planning Our Project:
Provide students with the project planner and encourage students to use it to outline the different parts of their
simulation by drawing pictures and writing a few words or sentences, including any dialogue that will appear on screen,
and starting to plan their code, if applicable. Teachers may wish to provide a list of words from which to choose, a scribe,
or other assistive technology to support students.
Creating Our Project:
Since every student’s project will be unique, there is no single, step-by-step set of instructions to follow; however, the
information below will support your students in the general process of creating an interactive simulation, as well as key
features that they will likely want to include. This sample code further demonstrates how the project might work and
please note that there is code included for each of the sprites and the stage. Information about each planet was modified
from and makes use of custom-designed sprites from a project by JOBRA-KING-studio.
In the sample code, the text information provided for each planet has been created as a costume within a sprite rather
than using the Say () for () Seconds block, due to its size or length. This is merely one approach to this project and is not
the only option for students. For your reference, Scratch determines where to display sprites and controls movement
using a Cartesian coordinate system, with (0,0) being the center of the screen and it may be helpful to pre-teach this
concept, if it is one with which students are unfamiliar.
1. Choose or create your backdrop(s) for the project. If adding multiple backdrops, all of them can be added now or
later on but be sure to rename your backdrops as appropriate to help keep track of them through the project.
2. Delete the cat sprite that is automatically added to your project and press the choose a spritebutton to select a
new sprite. You may wish to add all sprites that will be needed at this time. Remember that each sprite is
programmed separately, so be sure that you have selected the correct sprite before starting to write your code.
3. Your code must always start with an Event block. In this project, you will likely use the When Green Flag Clicked
block. You will also likely use the When I Receive ()“ block, in combination with the Broadcast ()block throughout
your code to trigger events to create the appearance of interactions between your sprites.
4. Some key features you may wish to use to set a “starting state” for your sprites include:
a. Use the Switch Backdrop To () block to set your starting backdrop and use the Switch Costume To () block
to set the starting costume for your sprite, if appropriate (more on this below).
b. Go To X () Y () will allow you to set a static position for your sprite. This can be used at the start of a line of
code in order to set a “starting position”
c. The Show and Hide blocks can be used intermittently throughout your code in order to have sprites appear
on screen or become “invisible” until a later time.
d. If you plan on having a sprite rotate at any point in your code, you will also want to set a starting direction
for your sprites using the Point In Direction () block.
Please note that Scratch does not automatically “reset” your sprites when you replay your code, so setting a starting
position, direction, and state of show/hide is often necessary.
5. To make your story more interactive, you may wish to use some of the following features:
a. The Say () For () Seconds block will allow you to create a “speech bubble” above a sprite for a certain
amount of time.
b. You can record your own sounds or choose from the ready made sound files in Scratch using the Sound
Editor. Use the Play Sound () Until Done block to play the desired sound clip in full.
c. The Glide () Secs To X () Y () block will allow you to have your sprite glide across the screen to a certain
coordinate. The longer the number of seconds, the slower it will move. This helps create the effect of more
realistic movements.
6. If you are using Scratch’s pre-designed sprites, you can use Costumes to create a more interesting, animated effect
on your characters. If you have designed your own sprites, you will need to create your own costumes using the
Paint Editor.
a. You can use a loop to rotate through all of the sprite costumes. Use a Repeat () block or a Forever block
and, inside of the loop, add a Wait () Seconds block. Set it to anywhere between 0.25 and 0.5 seconds (i.e.,
the shorter the time, the faster the animation will run). A setting of 0.5 seconds makes the animation fairly
realistic, without being too fast.
b. Still inside of the loop, add the Next Costume block. This will ensure that each time the loop cycles through,
it moves on to the next costume in the series. If you have used a Repeat () block, then you will need to use
the number of costumes available for the sprite to calculate how many times the loop should repeat (i.e.,
if there are four costumes available for your sprite, setting the loop to 4 will be one full rotation through
all the costumes).
7. Using the Broadcast () block paired with the When I Receive () block can allow you to trigger certain events to create
a more interesting story. Be sure to use short and clear names for your messages to keep track of them. See the
sample code for more detail on how this block can be used.
8. If students wish to create multiple backdrops for their project, they will need to use the Switch Backdrop To () block
to rotate between backdrops. They may also wish to use the When Backdrop Switches To () block in order to trigger
certain events upon the changing of a backdrop. See the sample code for more detail on how this block can be used.
9. To make your story more interactive, use the Ask () And Wait block to request input from the user. To actually use
the response provided to influence your code, follow the steps below:
a. Use an If () Then or If () Then, Else block to create a condition to evaluate what response was given.
b. In the blank space of the block, add a () = () from the green Operators menu.
c. In the first blank space of the () = () block, add the Answer block from the blue Sensing menu. This variable
will store whatever response the user provided in the most recent Ask () and Wait section. In the second
blank space of the () = () block, add the desired response.
d. In the open space of the If () Then or the first open space of the If () Then, Else block, add the code that
you wish to run if the user enters the desired information (i.e. correct)
e. In the second open space of the If () Then, Else block, add the code that you wish to run if the user enters
anything other than the desired information (i.e. incorrect).
f. You can use the Join () () block combined with the Answer block to use whatever the user entered and
combine it with more text (e.g. “[user’s response] is not correct. Good guess!”)
10. At any point, you can use the Wait () Seconds block to insert a pause/delay in your code.
Students can explore the relevance of the components of our solar system (i.e., planets, stars, etc.) and/or
stories about these components in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities.
Students can take their own photos and upload them as backdrops and/or sprites using the Paint Editor
Instead of written dialogue, students can use the Sound Editor to record their own sounds. The Start Sound ()
and Play Sound () Until Done blocks will allow students to insert those files into their code.
The sample code has the user enter text to select planets; however, students may also choose to use the When
Sprite Clicked event block to seek input from the user and trigger the start of different components of their
To extend their learning and skills, students may wish to:
o Set each sprite size to be proportional to its actual size in the solar system (i.e., Jupiter = 11 x larger
than Earth)
o Set each sprite’s position to be proportional to its actual distance from other components of the solar
o Add sprites and information to represent the stars, asteroids, and other celestial bodies or to talk
about which bodies emit or reflect light
To learn more about Roberta Bondar or space. in general, consider the following books and videos:
o Roberta Bondar, first Canadian woman in space from Canadian Space Agency
o HISTORY OF | History of Roberta Bondar from HISTORY Canada
o CBC Archives: Roberta Bondar Blasts Off 1992 | CBC from CBC
o Teaching Indigenous Star Stories (Article from The Walrus by Katie Boutsalis)
o Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed
o The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield
o Look Up! By Nathan Bryon
o Touching the Earth by Roberta Bondar
Sharing Our Work/Consolidation: Students can share Scratch projects using these steps.
1. Students should be provided with time to share their projects with others and to engage in self and peer
assessment. This can be done in a variety of different formats, including a gallery walk, whole class presentation, or
“trading” their project with another student. Students can provide feedback in a variety of ways, including written
and verbal. A variety of feedback options and templates are available in Appendix A.
2. An important aspect of assessing student understanding is focusing on the process, not the product. While it is
important to have a final product that functions as intended, students are often asked to produce something within
a limited time frame; therefore, it may be the case that, given more time, a student would be able to produce a
fully functional product.
To assess learning, teachers can conference with students throughout the creation of their projects using the
anecdotal prompts in Appendix B and documenting these discussions using an anecdotal observations chart.
Teachers are encouraged to consider the troubleshooting strategies used by students throughout the project, their
ability to explain how their project works, and what they might do differently in the future.
3. A rubric can be used to evaluate the final product. This and other assessment and evaluation tools can be modified,
as needed.
Low -Tech/No-Tech Modifications:
While it is ideal to have one device per student, this is not the reality for many classrooms. If you are planning to
have students work in groups, consider a maximum group size of 2 students to ensure as much “hands-on” time
with coding as possible. If access to devices is limited, you may wish to implement this lesson as part of a station
rotation within your classroom or use another strategy to work with small groups.
If you have no access to devices, you can:
o print images of the Scratch blocks in the folder at this link, cut them out and have students create their
code with paper blocks instead.
o You may also wish to print out images of the background scenes and characters to further support students
Appendix A: Self and Peer Feedback
Student Self Assessment
o Thumbs Up
Peer Assessment
o Two Stars and a Wish
Appendix B: Anecdotal Prompts
Throughout the time when students are creating their projects, teachers are encouraged to circulate and conference
with students to discuss their projects and progress. The process is just as, if not more, important than the final product
when it comes to coding, so this is key to truly understanding a student's understanding.
Key Concepts
Students should be able to identify, name, and explain key coding concepts in their own words; for example, sequence
can be described as “the order in which you write your code matters”. Conditionals can be described as “if-then
statements that give your computer options to choose from.” The wording may be unique to each student, but they
should be able to explain the concept.
Suggested Prompts:
1. Can you tell me what you know about ______?
2. Can you show me where in your code you used _____? How does it work?
There may be times when students “stumble” into the “right” answer in their code without fully understanding how
they got there, while another student may have a project that isn’t working the way they intend, but they know exactly
why and are able to very clearly articulate the steps they would take to fix the issue, if they had more time. Just because
a student’s project is not working exactly as they want it does not necessarily mean that they don’t understand so it is
important to take the time to discuss with students.
Suggested Prompts:
1. Can you tell me what this section of your code does?
2. It seems like this section of code isn’t working the way you want it to. Why do you think that might be? How
might you fix it?
3. What would happen if you made _____ change?
In the world of code, a lot of mistakes are going to be made. Not only is this completely normal (and it happens to
professional computer programmers all the time), but it is actually HOW we learn to code. To move from making the
mistake into learning from it, students need to develop and utilize effective troubleshooting strategies. If a student just
sits there staring at their code for a week trying to figure out an issue without ever asking for help, they are not
demonstrating effective troubleshooting strategies. Effective troubleshooting strategies that students may demonstrate
Reading their code out loud to themselves to attempt to identify errors
Sharing their code with a peer to ask for help in identifying an error
Dealing with frustration by taking a break from their code
Searching the web for answers to their questions
Suggested Prompts:
1. Can you tell me about a time where your code wasn’t working the way you wanted it to? What did you do to
fix it?
2. It seems like this section of code isn’t working the way you want it to. Why do you think that might be? How
might you fix it?
3. What are some mistakes you made when creating your project? What would you do differently next time?