The Pluto Debate, 1999-2006

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.
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Planet Data Plotter
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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.  Aug 29, 2010, 8:24 AM Tony Crider
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pluto-instructions-304.pdf
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These are the game instructions that you hand out to the students a few days before the game begins.  182k v. 1 Aug 8, 2011, 7:53 AM Tony Crider
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pluto-rolesheets-304-encrypted.pdf
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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.)  2796k v. 1 Aug 8, 2011, 7:56 AM Tony Crider
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pluto-slides-304.pdf
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These are slides that students can show while playing The Pluto Debate. Typically, the students playing the roles of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Ronald Ekers will advance the slides while they talk.  2592k v. 1 Aug 8, 2011, 8:00 AM Tony Crider
Ċ pluto-table-tents-302.pdf
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This file is meant to be printed onto thick paper and folded to create table tents. These will help students remember the character names and factions of the other players.   30k v. 2 Mar 23, 2011, 10:06 AM Tony Crider
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The Hunt for Planet X - Amazon
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New hardcover copies are also available from Amazon for ~$20. Used copies are less then $1 + shipping.   Jun 11, 2012, 6:13 PM Tony Crider
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The Hunt for Planet X - Google
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Students playing this game are assigned to read chapters from "The Hunt for Planet X" by Govert Shilling. This book can be purchased as a Google eBook for ~$15  Aug 8, 2011, 8:06 AM Tony Crider
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The Hunt for Planet X - Springer
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At some schools, including Elon University, students can read The Hunt for Planet X for free on-campus.  Aug 8, 2011, 8:02 AM Tony Crider
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