The Pluto Debate: The International Astronomical Union Defines a Planet
Game Author: Tony Crider (Elon University)
In this role-playing game, inspired by Barnard College’s Reacting to the Past series, students play one of nine astronomers arguing the definition of a planet at a 1999 debate in New York City and a 2006 meeting of the International Astronomical Union. During this game, students will do the following:
compare the history of Pluto’s discovery to that of the asteroid Ceres
describe the properties of the Kuiper Belt and its members
plot the orbital and physical properties of planets, asteroids, and comets
debate the necessity and value of scientific classifications
This game can be played be played with up to 27 students during one or two class periods as a substitute for or complement to traditional lectures on Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. It is recommended, but not required, that students have access to The Hunt for Planet X: New Worlds and the Fate of Pluto by Govert Shilling.
This is an online tool created for The Pluto Debate game. Students can use it to create plots to support their arguments. These "mini-papers" are typically handed out after the 1999 debate in New York and before the 2006 vote in Prague.
Each student gets a rolesheet describing their character. If there are more students than roles, you may have students share a role. Each rolesheet has a secret objective for the student and a list of materials to review before the game. (Contact Tony Crider at Elon University for a password to unlock this file.)