Solar System Round-Up

Two students create scale models of planets using play dough
Students use play dough to make scale models of planets (Worlds in Comparison portion of program).

NPS photo

Level: 4th-8th grade
Group Size: Min 10 students, max 1 class (@30)
Program Length: 2 hours (or choose a partial program)

Program Requirements: It would be ideal for each student to have at least a 3' wide space to make the play dough models, such as a lunch room or classroom with 6’ tables instead of desks.


Key Concepts: Matter, models, scale, proportion, planets of our solar system

Solar System Round Up online request form

Program Description
Explore our solar system through the use of scale models! Solar System Round Up ideally takes 2 full hours and includes both of the activities listed below. The program can be paused for recess and lunch breaks. If you cannot devote the full 2 hours, you may request a partial program by choosing only one of the components below. If this is the case, we recommend choosing Worlds in Comparison.

  • “Worlds in Comparison” explores the relative sizes (volumes) of the planets in the solar system through small group work using play dough and step-by-step instructions to make planet models. 75 minutes. (Activity sourced from Astronomy from the Ground Up)
  • “Pocket Solar System” explores the distances between objects in our solar system as students make a scale model of the solar system. 45 minutes. (Activity sourced from Astronomy from the Ground Up)

Request this program now! Solar System Round Up online request form

 
Students make a scale model of distances between planets in our solar system
Students make a scale model of distances between planets in our solar system (Pocket Solar System portion of program)

NPS photo

Potential follow-up activities:

 
Artist drawing of the solar system, with a glowing sun to the left and the planets aligned on the same plane.
Artist drawing of the solar system.

NASA/JPL photo

Education Standards Supported by this Program

Fourth Grade Common Core

RI.4.7: Interpret information presented visually and orally

W.4.8: Recall relevant information from experiences

Fifth Grade Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

ESS1.B: Earth and the Solar System (introductory; Constellation Connections classroom program focuses more on this point)

Crosscutting Concepts

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity

  • Natural objects exist from the very small to the immensely large.

Fifth Grade Common Core

MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

MP.4 Model with mathematics.

Middle School (6th-8th Grade) Next Generation Science Standards

Performance Expectations

MS-ESS1 Earth’s Place in the Universe

  • MS-ESS1-3. Analyze and interpret data to determine scale properties of objects in the solar system.

Science and Engineering Practices

Developing and Using Models

  • Use a model to describe phenomena.

Analyzing and Interpreting Models

  • Analyze and interpret data to determine similarities and differences in findings.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

ESS1.B: Earth and the Solar System

  • The solar system consists of the sun and a collection of objects including planets, their moons, and asteroids that are held in orbit around the sun by its gravitational pull on them.

Crosscutting Concepts

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity

  • Time, space, and energy phenomena can be observed at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small.

Systems and System Models

  • Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions.

Scientific Knowledge Assumes an Order and Consistency in Natural Systems

  • Science assumes that objects and events in natural systems occur in consistent patterns that are understandable through measurement and observation.

Middle School (6th-8th Grade) Common Core

MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

MP.4 Model with mathematics.

6.RP.A.1 Understand the concept of a ratio and use ratio language to describe a ratio relationship between two quantities.

Last updated: January 5, 2018

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