Created with TaskStream Earth Watch
Author: Challenger Center
Date created: 09/21/2004 11:08 AM EDT ; Date modified: 12/18/2006 9:31 AM EDT

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General Comments


Science, Social Studies
Grade 5, Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8
Time Required

45 minutes

Essential Question

What can be learned about the Earth from satellite images?


Students will be able to do the following:

  • Analyze different types of satellite images.
  • Explore the environmental characteristics of certain areas of the Earth through the intepretation of satellite images. 
Lesson Overview

In this lesson Students will view satellite images of the Earth. These satellite images allow students to learn about rainfall, land temperature, sea temperature as well as a variety of other environmental characteristics. They will then use what they have learned to interpret new satellite images.


Subject Matter Overview
  1. Science Overview
Preparation and Management
  1. Upload the electronic Student Procedures and Student Worksheets to the students’ computers or make copies of these sheets. You need Internet hookups. If you do not have access to the internet, give your students the image descriptions from the Answer Key and have them fill out their worksheets based on these descriptions.  Each image description has been worded in paragraph form so that students can extrapolate the information and place it into a table.
  2. Ask students to describe satellites. Student responses: They are in space and travel around the Earth. Does this mean that the moon is a satellite? Yes. The moon is a natural satellite. The ones that humans send into space are human-made satellites. What is the function of human-made satellites? Human-made satellites tell us more about what is in space and tell us more about the Earth. What can these satellites tell us about the Earth? They can tell us about the weather, the changes in ocean temperature, marine life, and pollution. They can show physical features of the Earth. They can track storms, droughts, and fires.
  3. Have students complete Student Procedures and Student Worksheet.
  4. Give the students Mystery Images Student Procedures and Mystery Images Student Worksheet.
  5. Discuss what students have learned about the areas of the Earth studied in the satellite images. 
Transfer and Extension

1. Give students the Biosphere Student Procedures and a globe. After they have written down as much information as they can about this image,  discuss how plant growth is impacted by environment. For example: Ask students to identify a location on the biosphere image where there is very little plant growth. Northern Africa. Have students look at the globe. What is located at this same area?  Sahara Desert. Ask them to explore other areas of the image and the globe.


2. Have students go to and click on the data and images section. Have them explore this web site. Have students choose a satellite image and report to the class on its function.

Differentiated Instruction
Teaching Tips

1. Have several globes available so that students can compare the satellite images to the area on the globe.


2. If your class is learning about a specific geographical area in social studies, use this activity to learn more about that area. Download images that are specific to that area. Have students learn as much as they can about that area by looking at a globe and interpreting the satellite images. Then have a classroom discussion and write down all the information that the students have found from looking at the images.



Student Procedures and Student Worksheets


Student Procedures and Worksheets





4 Points

- All observations are complete and recorded in Student Worksheet 1.

- Observations accurately describe the results.

- Good use of adjectives to describe the observations.

- Writing is clear and understandable.


3 Points

- Most observations are complete and recorded in Student Worksheet 1.

- Observations describe the results.


2 Points

- Some observations complete and recorded in Student Worksheet 1.

- Observations attempt to describe the results.

- Writing is difficult to understand.


1 Point

- Few observations complete and recorded in Student Worksheet 1.

- Does not describe the results.


0 Points

- No observations are complete.

- Observations are off topic or unrelated.

- Writing is unreadable.