Plains Elementary 5th Graders Declare Pluto a Planet

KSCB News - December 19, 2014 8:09 am

The fifth grade students at Plains Elementary, which is located in the small southwest Kansas town of Plains, and has just over 1,000 residents declared that Pluto is a planet after all.
Current State Representative Reid Petty, who’s term in office will come to an end on January 12, 2015, after deciding not to run to re-election so he could pursue a full-time job in teaching is in his first year of teaching at Plains, where he is the social studies and science teacher for just over 50 fifth grade students.
Petty said that his fifth graders have been studying the solar system for the last month and that his students wanted to know why Pluto wasn’t considered a planet anymore.

“Many of my students said that Pluto was there favorite planet, and they were very disappointed when I told them that many textbooks and astronomers don’t recognize Pluto as a planet anymore,” Petty said.

So Petty had his class research the topic and found that back in 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) had their annual conference and that out of over 11,000 total members, that only 411 were present to vote on the issue, and that 237 voted to classify Pluto as a dwarf planet rather than a classical planet, and 157 voted to keep it as a classical planet, with 17 people abstaining.

Petty said many students in his class felt that was absurd that the IAU even has the power to make this type of decision, and that many were even more upset that only 400 of 11,000 members were in attendance to vote to make such a big decision.

“Many of my students made the point that even if something is small doesn’t mean it is something else. One student said a baby is small, but it is still a human. So this student asked why Pluto being small should matter at all and that rather big or small that it should remain a classical planet.”

The fifth graders at Plains decided after their research to take a vote of their own. They decided that since the IAU feels that they can declare Pluto not to be a classical planet anymore, that they should have the same right to make a declaration.

There were 49 students at school the day of the vote, and 35 voted that Pluto is a classical planet, while 14 voted that it should only remain a dwarf planet, as the IAU and most textbooks declare.

The fifth graders at Plains followed the lead of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center who recently did the same thing. They had a debate, and the audience voted to reinstate Pluto as a classical planet.

Petty said he was proud of his students for the time they took in researching the topic, and the lively debate and vote that followed.

“I don’t see why the IAU’s opinion is any more important than a great group of fifth graders in Plains, Kansas,” Petty said.
Petty’s classroom has blow up planets in his room and after the vote has Pluto up as a classical planet.


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