The Pluto Debate: The International Astronomical Union Defines a Planet

Game in Development | Available for Download

If you would like to request the use of this unpublished game, please fill out this form.

In this game, 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.

About the Author:

Tony Crider is an Associate Professor of Physics at Elon University in North Carolina. He received his Ph.D. in space physics and astronomy from Rice University in 1999 and continued his research of gamma-ray bursts as a National Research Council associate at the Naval Research Laboratory. In 2006, he co-founded the SciLands, an archipelago of Second Life islands dedicated to science education and outreach. He is also using robotic telescopes and computer modeling to study near-Earth asteroids. Additionally, Crider serves as the President of the Reacting Consortium Board.