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Apollo Program


6th Grade Social Studies Lesson Plan

America and the Apollo Program

Alexi Balch

EDUC 3003.03

Texas Woman’s University

November 2, 2009

The Solar System

6th Grade Social Studies

America and the Apollo Program




  1. TEKS 6.21 (C): The student is expected to organize and interpret information from outlines, reports, databases, and visuals including graphs, charts, timelines, and maps

  2. TEKS 6.20 (A): The student is expected to give examples of scientific discoveries and technological innovations, including the roles of scientists and inventors, that have transcended the boundaries of societies and have shaped the world

  3. TEKS 6.20 (C): The student is expected to make predictions about future social, economic, and environmental consequences that may result from future scientific discoveries and technological innovations


(Bloom's Taxonomy)

  1. Given a timeline of the Apollo Program and ten minutes, TLW label 10 of 10 significant scientists and events. (Analysis)

  2. Given fifteen minutes and an overview of the impact of the Apollo Program, TLW predict the social and environmental consequences of future space exploration [see rubric for evaluation criteria]. (Synthesis)

  3. Given classmates’ predictions of the consequences of future space exploration, TLW assess future exploration as good or bad [see rubric for evaluation criteria]. (Evaluation)


  • Apollo Program Timeline Handout (p. 11)

  • Apollo Program Worksheet (p. 6-7)

  • Blank white paper

  • Colored pencils

  • Rubric (p. 8)

  • Homework Assignment (Timeline and Questions) (p. 9-10)

Anticipatory Set

  1. Ask the students, “What do you think the Moon looks like?” “What do you think it feels like?” “Do you think it really looks and feels like cheese?”

  2. After students respond to the above questions, explain to the class that quite a few people have actually been able to walk on the Moon thanks to a space mission called Apollo.

  3. Say, “The Apollo Program was a fourteen year program that NASA used to explore the Moon that revolves around the Earth. Learning more about the Moon tells us more about the planet on which we live as well as the other planets in the solar system. The Apollo Program was an important part of America’s past, and the men and women who took part in the program contributed greatly to advances our country has been able to make in space exploration.

  4. Explain to students that you will be discussing the major events involved with the seventeen Apollo missions. After learning more about the program, students will be expected to answer questions pertaining to the Apollo Program. They will also be expected to think about future space explorations.

Instructional Input/ Teacher Explanation & Modeling

  1. Provide each student with a handout of the Apollo Program Timeline. Reiterate the correct way to read a timeline. Show students that each line comes off the main timeline in chronological order.

  2. Beginning with the first event, discuss the entire timeline with the class. Emphasize the more detailed events and provide additional information concerning such events as the 1967 cockpit fire and the infamous Apollo 13. Show students the important people listed on the timeline (Eisenhower, Kennedy, Armstrong, etc.)

  3. Discuss the large number of missions involved in the Apollo Program. Emphasize the amount of time and money that must have been spent to support a program of such magnitude. Also highlight the lives that were lost as a result of these missions (and other space exploration missions in history). Have students speculate on whether or not they believe these missions are worth the risks.

  4. Pass out the worksheet and have students complete the sheet on their own. They are allowed to use the timeline to find the information needed. Give students ten minutes to complete the worksheet.

  5. Ask the students what they think the future of space exploration will be like. What else do we not know about our solar system? Do they think there are such things as Martians? Are there more planets than the ones we know about in our solar system? Give the students two minutes to “talk with their neighbor” about their predictions.

  6. Have a few students share with the class their predictions about the future of space discoveries.

  7. Give each student a piece of white paper and colored pencils. Instruct the students to draw a picture of their predictions of future space discoveries. Explain that if they heard a good prediction from a classmate they can include it in their picture. Students label their drawing to help to explain their prediction.

  8. When students are beginning to finish their drawings, have them turn their paper over. Students will be instructed to write three sentences about whether more space discoveries would be good or bad. Emphasize that students need to explain why these discoveries would be good or bad. Why is it good for us to keep exploring space? How could it be bad?

  9. Before allowing them to turn in their assignments, make sure students have completed the project in its entirety.

Checking for Understanding

  • Carry on class discussions concerning the risks and benefits of the Apollo Program and other space exploration missions. Also discuss the students’ predictions about the future of space discoveries. During discussion, listen for well thought-out responses and answers that are based on proven evidence. Scaffold discussions if good points have yet to be brought up by students.

  • As students are completing the worksheet, walk around the room and ensure that every child is reading the timeline correctly.

  • Monitor the completion of the drawing and prediction. Make sure students are following directions so they will be able to receive full points.

  • Discuss the grading rubric with the students. Point out the parts that must be included in the drawing and short paragraph to receive full credit.

Guided Practice

  • While presenting the timeline to the class, explain that all timelines are created in chronological order. Emphasize the fact that important dates will be highlighted in the timeline so it will be important to pay attention to all of the information.

  • If students are having a difficult time reading the timeline, provide the class with a short lesson that increases understanding of timelines. This can be done as a class, with small groups of students, or individually to benefit any number of students who may be struggling.

  • Provide students with an example of the drawing they are to complete. Show the class the rubric and explain why the example has received full credit.


  • Ask students what they now know about the Apollo Program. What do they think about the length of the program and the large sum of money spent on space exploration?

  • Discuss the many students’ different predictions of the consequences of future space exploration. Did everybody have the same prediction and opinion? If a class of twenty students cannot agree on particular predictions and consequences, what must the people at NASA go through to get a program accepted?

  • How can the class add this new knowledge to their existing knowledge concerning the solar system? How does knowing more about the Moon help us to know more about our own planet?

Independent Practice


Students will be given another timeline pertaining to the solar system. For homework, they will review the timeline and answer the questions that follow.


  1. Timeline Practice (Objective One):

Students complete the practice worksheet. 10 out of 10 correct are expected. Grading key attached.

  1. Prediction Assignment (Objective Two):

Students complete the prediction assignment with a drawing. See attached rubric for evaluation standards.

  1. Consequences Assignment (Objective Three):

Students write three sentences or more assessing the potential consequences of future space exploration. See attached rubric for evaluation standards.


  1. Students watch Apollo 13. Have students provide a brief (1/2 page) report discussing the impact of the thirteenth Apollo mission. How was the mission a “successful failure?” Were the risks worth the benefits in this mission?

  2. Students investigate the moons of other planets in the solar system. How do the moons compare and contrast with our moon?

  3. Students search for current events pertaining to the solar system. What space exploration missions are currently underway? What risks and benefits are involved? Students prepare a brief current event report to show their findings.

Name _________________________________­­­­­­______ Date____________________________

  1. What occurred on January 27, 1967?

  1. On what date was Apollo 9?

  1. Which Apollo Mission was the first successful attempt at putting a man on the moon?

  1. Which president initially wished to begin the Apollo Program?

  1. What occurred on January 31, 1971?

  1. What happened during the Apollo 13 mission?

  1. On what date was Apollo 4?

  1. What is significant about the Apollo 7 mission?

  1. What date was the final Apollo mission on?

  1. How many years did the Apollo Program last?

Timeline Answer Key

  1. This was the day of the first planned manned mission. The crew was killed during rehearsal.

  1. March 3, 1969

  1. Apollo 11

  1. Dwight D. Eisenhower

  1. Apollo 14

  1. There was an explosion in the oxygen tank. The mission was aborted but all of the crew members survived.

  1. November 9, 1967

  1. October 11, 1968

  1. December 7, 1972

  1. 14 years

Apollo Assignment Rubric




Future Space Exploration Prediction

Student does not provide a prediction for future space exploration.

Prediction not based on sound research or judgments.

Student provides a quality prediction that has clearly been thought through. Educated prediction.

Quality of Drawing

Drawing is sloppy. Student does not show involvement. Unrelated to prediction.

Drawing visually appealing, but is unrelated to prediction.

Drawing corresponds appropriately with prediction. Helps to clarify students’ thoughts. Neat and colorful.

Assessment of Possible Consequences

Student does not assess the potential effects of future space exploration. No value statement.

Student does not base their assessment on sound reasoning. No explanation for the students’ assessment.

Student provides their own value judgment. Assessment is valid and based on appropriate evidence. Student provides an explanation for their assessment.

Quality of Writing

Assessment is not three sentences or more. More than three grammar/spelling errors.

Assessment is three sentences or more. Three or less grammar/spelling errors.

Assessment is three sentences or more. One or less grammar/spelling errors

Total Points Available: 12

Timeline of the Solar System (Homework Assignment)
2 AD - Ancient Greeks and Romans recognized five planets, each circling the Earth according to laws laid out by Ptolemy in 2AD. These were Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

1612 - Galileo Galilei spots Neptune; at first he mistakes it for a fixed star.

1781 - William Herschel discovers Uranus, the first planet to be found using a telescope.

1930 - Pluto was observed by Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona and immediately named the ninth planet.

1992 - First large object found in the Kuiper Belt, a mass of comets and rocks that sits on the outer edge of the solar system.

2003 - A Kuiper belt object called 2003 UB313 (later re-named Eris) seen by astronomers and measured to be of a similar size to Pluto, re-igniting debate over whether Pluto should be defined as a planet.

2006 - International Astronomical Union clarifies the definition of a planet to ensure two conditions are met: a planet must orbit a star without being a star itself, and it has to be big enough for its gravity to pull it into a spherical shape. Pluto and Eris are put in the category of dwarf planets.
Timeline of the Solar System Questions

  1. What year did William Herschel discover Uranus?

  1. What was the last planet to be discovered?

  1. What occurred in 2003?

  1. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter were first recognized by what groups of people?

  1. When were Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Saturn first recognized?

  1. What year did scientists begin to question if Pluto was a planet?

  1. What year did scientists declare Pluto a dwarf planet?

  1. How many years ago did Galileo Galilei discover Neptune?

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