A solar system is a central sun that is surrounded by bodies, which revolve around it. The solar system that includes Earth also has the sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, along with their moons and many comets, meteors and asteroids. There are several solar system projects that can help students learn about the planets around them.
To make a mobile model of the solar system, you will need string, scissors, round pieces of cardboard, a compass, a pencil, a square piece of cardboard, paint and paintbrushes. Begin by drawing lines to divide the circle of cardboard into quarters. Use the compass to create orbits. Use the scissors to punch a hole in the center of the cardboard, and then punch a hole into each orbit line. Cut circles out of the square piece of cardboard and paint them to look like the planets and Pluto, the dwarf planet. Hang the planets in their orbits with the string, and then attach string to the top of the circle of cardboard so that you can hang it from the ceiling.
To create a clay model of the solar system, begin with a large piece of cardboard. Paint the cardboard black. When it is dry, paint the orbits of the eight planets and dwarf planet. Make a clay hemisphere and attach it to the center of the cardboard with glue. This is the sun. Create nine more hemispheres, in varying sizes, for the planets, and place them in their orbits. Try different ways to decorate each piece, such as yellow and orange crepe paper shreds, for the sun.
Create a scale model on a football field of the solar system using different colored toy balls for the planets and an orange for the sun. Use a spool of twine and a yard stick to measure the distances from the Sun to the planets. One yard equals 10 million miles. Have students work together to begin at the sun and use the yardstick to measure for the rest of the system, while keeping their place in orbit with the twine.
Assign each planet and the sun to a student. Begin by having the sun stand in the middle of the room. Next, have the children come up, in order of orbit, and take their places around the sun. Once everyone is in place, the planets should begin to revolve around the sun. They should also begin to rotate slowly as they revolve. Discuss that while they are making a model of the solar system, in reality, the planets each have differing speeds and directions of rotation and revolution.
About the Author
Stephanie Parker holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education, and a Master's of Education in library science. She currently works as a school librarian and spent six years teaching Prekindergarten and Head Start.
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