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Search > Learning Exercise Results > What is a light year?

Learning Exercise: What is a light year?

What is a light year?
Great conversion chart for students to understand the distances expressed in lightyears by converting that to kilometers and miles.
Course: 8th Grade Physical Science


Submitted by:
Cathi Graves Tudman
Date Last Modified:
June 26, 2006


1. Students as groups at their tables will look at a map of Fresno and
determine distances between school and several known locations. What is the
best unit of measure (feet, miles, kilometers)?
2. Next, determine the distance between Fresno and places in the state.
3. Now, determine the distance between Fresno and places in the country.
4. List findings on board.
5. The determination of distance next jumps off the planet and must be measured
betweena the Earth and the Moon, other planets and nearest star. Convert from
kilometers to light years.



  • College General Ed
  • High School
  • Middle School


CA Science Standard 4 (c) & 9 (d)
Earth in the Solar Systerm
(measuring distances) & (use math to organize)


Reading (ELD III or higher), mathematics (conversions), basic compter facility, ability to chart data

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to figure distances between celestial objects in known units of measure (very large numbers) to facilitate the use of the term light year.

Type of Task

  • Student-centered
  • Supplemental activity
  • Team

Technical Notes

Review math conversions, discuss scientific notation, provide calculators.