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Pluto Planet Controversy and Education

Cosmic questions could make elementary science classes a little more complicated. What exactly is a planet and does Pluto qualify? Those are some of the questions astronomers from around the world are debating this week.

The answer could revolutionize how educators teach students about the solar system. News on 6 education Reporter Ashli Sims finds out what some young science students think about this cosmic confusion.

It’s in their text books, on their school agendas, and a science fact they know by heart. Coleman Barker: "Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars.” Andrew Bocanumenth: "Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.”

But this cosmic conventional wisdom could be history. The International Astronomical Union is divided over new galactic guidelines, some want to demote Pluto, the solar system's smallest planet, to dwarf.

Others want to expand the definition of a planet to include Pluto, its moon, and two other heavenly bodies. It's caused quite a stir in the scientific community and the classroom.

Some Jenks 6th grade students are quick to point out that if scientists were to change the definition of a planet, they'd have to change encyclopedias, textbooks, anything with a diagram of the solar system. Jackson Christie: "well, we've had it and if it changed it would be very dramatic and have a big impact." Alyssa Coulter: "we should just keep our solar system. Like Jackson said it would be a huge thing to take out Pluto and put three new ones in."

And it’s for the sake of science, that some of these students say Pluto shouldn't be excluded. Katie Rosebrook: "well I don’t think we know much about it. And I think we should learn more about it, before we start judging it." Brianna McGuire: "I think we haven’t really made alot of discoveries about it and if we start researching more then we're going to find some pretty good discoveries."

Whatever the grown-ups decide about the universe, the debate has definitely opened these young minds up to the outer limits. The International Astronomic Union is supposed to decide Pluto's fate Thursday.
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