Satellites are orbiting bodies that provide information and communication that could not come about in any other way.
They have been the impetus for major advances in technology; just one of which is the changing of our TV, Internet, phone and radio communications. This shift in communications and information has increased accessibility worldwide and affects people of all ages everywhere. For this reason it is critical for students to discover all they can about satellite technology: its history and the impact it has made on today’s world.
To pave the way for educators everywhere, we have put together an expansive satellite resource that they can use to teach their students all about satellites. Discover classroom activities, lesson plans, and information on the history of satellite development, its technology and its impact on communication, categorized by Elementary (grades kindergarten through fourth grade), Middle School (grades 5 through 8) and High School (grades 9 through 12).
The information provided in these resources give students the basics of satellites; their function and their roles in different industries. By learning the history and evolution of satellites, students come to grasp the incredible impact satellites have made in today’s world.
The United States Geological Survey provides two resources on satellites.
The Landsat 8 viewer shows satellite images of the earth so teachers can show their students exactly what is seen from the vantage point of satellites in orbit. A video from USGS shows satellite views of the earth and provides more information about the satellites providing those images.
Lesson Planet offers a ready-made lesson plan about navigation and satellites to teach students in 3rd through 5th grade about how we understand geography and navigation using satellites.
Science Kids has compiled a list of fun facts about satellites ideal for elementary aged students. It is an ideal starting point for a student doing research.
The National Social Science Association has an informative resource for teachers providing them with inspiration on bringing Google Earth into Elementary classrooms.
Exploratorium.edu is a fun search lesson that will guide students through researching satellites and creating a presentation based on that information.
The Multiverse at the University of California, Berkeley has created an intensive lesson plan about the way satellites see for grades 3 to 8. The lesson takes six periods of 45 minutes in order to complete and covers NASA satellites and the electromagnetic spectrum.
Lesson Planet has created a research lesson about satellite history and use. Called Eye in the Sky, this lesson provides students with information about satellites and encourages them to do primary research in order to learn about the effects of their use.
The site ExplorePAhistory.com has put together a lesson plan about the First Weather Satellite, which was produced in PA.
ReadWriteThink.org has a lesson built around the first picture of Earth taken from a satellite. It gives students a better understanding of how far satellite development has come.
NASA offers a resource about early satellites, which educates grade 9-12 students in the history behind NASA satellites.
The U.S. Air Force Satellite Test Center also offers a lesson plan targeting 10th and 11th graders with detailed modern American history units on the development of our satellite program and its use during the Cold War.
Lesson Planet has a high school history lesson encouraging students to research the last 50 years of satellite technology.
The Engineering and Technology History Wiki has a lesson in which students create a timeline of communication satellite development.
These resources provide information about how satellites work and the ways in which they are used.
Discovery School has put out a lesson that is geared to 3rd to 5th grade students and teaches them about the positives and negatives of different types of technology, including satellites and how they are used.
Teach Engineering offers a lesson called Keep In Touch: Communications and Satellites targeted to grades 3 to 5, but especially 4th graders. It focuses on satellite use in communication for those who are remote.
Teachers Pay Teachers lesson Easy Science Experience: How Do Satellites Work are for 3rd grade through 12th grade to help students understand how information travels via satellites.
The U.S. Geological Survey offer a lesson called Tracking Change Over Time, targeted at 5th-8th graders. It is meant to introduce the idea of using satellite images to track landscape change with time.
A lesson explaining man-made satellites was created by the Satellite Educators Association and California State University that is suitable for grades 1 through 7. Students discover how satellites are used for different purposes, the physics of launching them into orbit and more.
NASA for Educators has created a lesson called Around the World in which students create a model showing how satellites orbit Earth. It gives students a good understanding of how satellites are put in orbit and stay there. It is for those in 5th through12th grade.
Boston University has compiled 7 lesson plans for teaching about satellites. While they can be adapted to elementary or high school, they are most suited to a middle school curriculum and cover the creation, launch, and orbit of satellites.
Science NetLinks provides a middle school appropriate lesson plan about satellite orbits and gravitational force.
A lesson on Reading Satellite Images has been created for 6th to 8th graders by Discovery Education. Students learn about the how satellite images are made and the type of information those images reveal.
Build a Satellite lesson was created by the California Academy of Sciences to help middle schoolers better understand satellites
Satellite Math – Solar Arrays is a detailed math and science lesson teaching students about how principles from each discipline are applied in Air Force satellites.
Little Bits Electronics provides the lesson Space Lesson: Satellite Orbit for high school students. It teaches students about the orbit of satellites and the ways they can be used to create maps of Earth.
ISS-CASIS Academy has a physical science lesson called Hatch a Plot to Track… Some Satellites! It teaches about the International Space Station and the different types of satellites in space, the benefits of each and their orbital paths.
Multiple lessons were created by NOAA – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It teaches students about the basics of the electromagnetic spectrum, different satellite applications and the use of meteorological satellites.
The Physics Classroom has created a variety of lessons on satellites including the Circular Motion Principles for Satellites. The interactive lesson even offers online questions to check comprehension.
Communications have been greatly enhanced by satellite use in recent years. They are now a largely unseen part of our lives. These resources teach about them in an age-appropriate way.
A third grade lesson from Lesson Planet called How Communication Technologies Affect People is an intensive 2 week project. In addition to research work and worksheets, students are expected to create a presentation of their work.
Another Lesson Planet offering for grades 3 to 5 is entitled Keep in Touch: Communications and Satellites teaching students about how those in remote areas communicate via satellites.
BrainPOP Educators created a lesson about the evolution of inventions for 3rd to 8th graders. Students learn about the discoveries of Thomas Edison and how later inventions were sparked by his work.
Why We Explore Space is a HotChalk Lesson Plans Page for 4th and 5th graders, teaching them about space exploration and how it has impacted other tech developments.
Earthshots shows collections of satellite images of the same places over a period of time, so viewers can track the change over time. Each location documented has detailed information explaining the changes that have taken place. National Geographic has also created a lesson that uses information from Earthshots.
NASA for Educators created two Communications Satellite lesson plans for middle schoolers: Space Math II/Satellite Math for 7th through 9th grade, and NASA at 50 – 1994: GPS Satellite Constellation Completed for 6th to 12th graders. Space Math II gives students the chance to try out actual engineering issues related to designing satellites. NASA at 50 – 1994: GPS Satellite Constellation is a video and audio clip that teaches students about the how and why of GPS.
NASA published an article to teach secondary students about communications satellite history and their role today.
Lesson Planet has created a high school level lesson on communication satellites. How Does Your Smartphone Know Your Location is targeted to 9th to 12th grade. The video that is a part of the lesson teaches students about GPS and how they work.
The incredibly popular site - Teachers Pay Teachers - has a lesson plan available about mass media television, a study of the history of broadcast and television media, the economics of the industry, and challenges faced.
Lesson Planet has a Communication Satellites worksheet for 9th through 12th grade students. This math worksheet teaches students about the investment required for satellite, the revenue they generate, and their lifespan.
Satellite Communications lesson resources that focus on Kepler’s Laws and Newton’s Laws have been compiled by the National Association for Amateur Radio.
The Satellite Educators Association and the California State University created a plan about the remote sensing of satellites, intended for grade 9-12 students. In the lesson, students build a working model to help them understand the role of satellites in communication.