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Modeling the Solar System

Time Frame:
2 class periods that run 45 minutes each.

Group Size:
Small Groups


Students will use a computer program to scale a solar system model. They will then create and build it.

Main Curriculum Tie:
Science - Earth Science
Standard 1 Objective 2

Analyze Earth as part of the solar system, which is part of the Milky Way galaxy.


  • A selection of balls (marble, golf ball, tennis ball, volley ball, soccer ball, playground balls)
  • index cards
  • markers,
  • metersticks
  • popsicle sticks or wooden skewers
  • glue or tape
  • computer per group
  • student worksheet (attached)


Background For Teachers:
Time needed: 30 minutes the first day, 40 minutes the second day.

Instructional Procedures:

  1. Place the selection of balls, marbles or other round objects in the front of the room. It will be nice if you can have a different one for each group. A 6 cm diameter ball will need 194 m of space for the whole system so do not choose balls much bigger than this unless you have a really large space to put it in.
  2. Ask groups to choose a ball for their “sun” in a model solar system.
  3. Provide an index card, ruler, marker and wooden stick for each group.
  4. Read the instructions from the student sheet and allow students to calculate their “solar system”.
  5. Each group will build a little different system. The sizes of planets will be different based on their scales.
  6. When students go outside to build the systems, they should step off the meters. They can practice in the room if you provide a place where the floor has been measured in meter length steps.

Lesson Design by Jordan School District Teachers and Staff.

Utah LessonPlans

Created Date :
Nov 04 2014 13:05 PM