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					                              Modeling the Solar System
Graduate Fellow: Kelly Fellows                                Master Teacher: Cheryl Park

Model calculations were obtained at http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/solar_system/.

Objective: To build a scaled-down model of the solar system that will allow the students to learn
about all nine planets’ size and distance from each other.

TEKS: 6.3c; 6.5a; 6.13a                                     Time Allotment: 2 days

Materials (per student):
Metric ruler (mm divisions necessary)
Pencil
Construction paper of various colors
Scissors
Data sheet with planet sizes

Materials (per class):
Sun (diameter = 60in)
Overhead of city map

Engage: Begin by asking the students to name the nine planets. Ask them what they know
about each of the planets. List them on the board in their order from the sun. If they have not
thought of a fun acronym for the planets, work together to create one specifically for their class.
Then ask the students if they can list the planets from largest to smallest. Show them the cut out
of the sun and explain that they are going to be making an accurate model of the solar system in
class today. The data sheets they receive will list the conversions for all nine planets relative to
the size of our model sun. To get them thinking about how small the model systems will be,
show them one of the planets.

Explore: The students can now work individually to create their own solar system. Instruct the
students to cut out paper models of each of the planets using the sizes listed on their data sheets.
Once everyone has completed making their own solar system model separate the students into
small groups. Instruct them to decide how far apart they think the planets will be from each
other in our model solar system. They can record their predictions on their data sheets.

Explain: Gather the class together and fill in the model distances in the table. Then use the
overhead of the city to map out where the planets would be located if the sun was located just
outside of their school.
Elaborate: Other facts can be shared to help the students understand the scale of the solar
system. For example, in this model solar system, a human would be the size of an atom and the
nearest star would still be 40,000 km away (approximately the circumference of the earth!).

Evaluate: The last question on the data sheet provides some input from the students on what
they learned during the activity.


Solar System Model Calculation Results (based on a 60 in or 1,524 mm sun size):
                                        Predicted                       Model
              Actual       Model                         Actual
                                        Distance                       Distance
Planet/Star Diameter     Diameter                    Distance from
                                        from the                     from the sun
               (km)        (mm)                       the sun (km)
                                           sun                            (m)

   Sun        1,391,900       1,524            -               0                0


 Mercury         4,866          5.3            -           57,950,000         63.45


  Venus         12,106         13.2            -          108,110,000         118.37


  Earth         12,742         13.9            -          149,570,000         163.77


   Mars          6,760          7.4            -          227,840,000         249.46


  Jupiter      139,516        152.7            -          778,140,000         851.99


  Saturn       116,438        127.4            -         1,427,000,000       1,562.43


  Uranus        46,940         51.3            -         2,870,300,000       3,142.70


 Neptune        45,432         49.7            -         4,449,900,000       4,926.96


   Pluto         2,274          2.4            -         5,913,000,000       6,474.18
Name                                         Date

                   Modeling the Solar System Data Sheet
MATERIALS (What did you use during the activity?):




DATA COLLECTION – Model Solar System Calculation Table:

                                      Predicted         Actual         Model
               Actual      Model
                                      Distance         Distance       Distance
Planet/Star   Diameter    Diameter
                                      from the       from the sun   from the sun
                (km)       (mm)
                                         sun            (km)            (m)

   Sun        1,391,900    1,524         0                0              0


 Mercury       4,866        5.3


  Venus        12,106       13.2


  Earth        12,742       13.9


  Mars         6,760        7.4


 Jupiter      139,516      152.7


  Saturn      116,438      127.4


 Uranus        46,940       51.3


 Neptune       45,432       49.7


  Pluto        2,274        2.4
CONCLUSION (What did you learn from your data?):

1. How closely did your predicted distances match the actual distances between the
    planets?




2. If we put all of the model planets in their positions where would our model planet of Pluto be
located?




3. List your three favorite facts about the solar system that you learned from this activity.

       1.




       2.




       3.

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: This is an example of solar system model. This document is useful for creating solar system model.
Beunaventura Longjas Beunaventura Longjas
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