Author: Tufts STOMP
Time: 1 - 2 one-hour class periods
Description: Students will create a working model of the solar system.
Lesson Objectives: To develop an understanding about planets rotating on their axes and their revolution around the sun within orbits.
Preparation and Setup:
- Video of the solar system
- Large, teacher made diagram of the solar system
- Teacher made planet info cards
- Picture of the planet.
- Distance and order from sun
- Planet before and after it
- Amount of time for one rotation
- Four planet markers for each planet (picture and name of planet
- Tape Measures
Teacher Background: Use online resources to find information on planets. Try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_system as a resource.
- Make large solar system diagram.
- Construct planet info cards.
- Create planet markers.
- Collect materials.
- Arrange students into four groups.
- Distribute materials to the class.
- Show students video on solar system. This video should include information about rotation and revolution.
- Talk about the meaning of rotation and revolution.
- Ask the students:
- How can you demonstrate the motions in the solar system?
- Break into groups and tell students that they can use anything in the classroom to aid their demonstration.
- Students will be allowed approximately 10 minutes to complete the task.
- Have each group present their demonstration.
- After the group demonstrations, explain to students that they will recreate a model of the solar system's motions by using themselves as the sun and planets.
- Assign individuals, or small groups of individuals to be a specific planet, or the sun.
- Each group will be given a ball of string, four planet marker cards, and a planet info card that tells them the length of string they should cut to replicate their planets orbit.
- Bring the class to a large open area.
- You could clear the classroom by pushing desks to the side, go outside, use gymnasium or multi-purpose room.
- Decide where to place the sun first.
- The "Planet" groups will use tape measures to determine how far away from the sun they should stand. Students should place their markers at 4 spots with the same radius from the sun where their orbit will be.
- Have students place their strings to mark their orbits.
- Each student group will choose one member to stand on their orbit in a straight line from the sun.
- Using one student as an example show how the student would revolve around the sun while rotating on their axis.
- Have nine the students orbit the sun, each representing a planet.
- Have the class come together to discuss the difference between rotation and revolution. Students can write their explanations on a paper using words or diagrams.
- pds.jpl.nasa.gov/planets/welcome.htm - vivid images of each planet
- usenet.net.nx/nineplanets/overview - basics of the planets rotations and descriptitons of each planet