Thursday, November 1, 2012

Exploration and Observation: Solar System Model

In this week's book, Oliver Olson makes a solar system model for his school project. So let's make one too! Here's how to make a scale model of the solar system using stuff you probably have left over from Halloween.

     Materials needed:

     2 small pumpkins
     2 mini pumpkins
     3 suckers (Tootsie Pops, etc. You can cut the sticks off.)
     1 Whopper candy
     1 Skittle candy
     2 Nerds candies

The planets and objects in our solar system are very, very different sizes. Which is the biggest? Which is the smallest? Which four items do you think represent the gas giants? Which four are the terrestrial planets? Which items do you think represent our moon and Pluto? If we added more Nerds to our solar system, what could they represent?

Write down which planet (plus the moon and Pluto) you think goes with each item and why you chose it on this Solar System Recording Sheet.

Why isn't the sun one of our items? Because we'd need a pumpkin that was as tall as a grown-up! On this scale, the Earth would revolve at a distance of about two football fields from the sun, and the moon would revolve around the Earth at a distance of about 30 inches. Jupiter would be about 1 km away from the giant pumpkin sun, and Pluto would be about 8 km away!

Adapted from NASA's Solar System Scale and Size lesson plan. For NASA's full lesson plan, click here.

Additional resources:

Solar System Scale Model Calculator
Planet Size Comparison

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Fun! - All I'm missing are the mini pumpkins. (Sorry for the deleted comment - I had a typo)