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Pocket Solar System

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Using a strip of paper, patrons construct a quick scale model of the distances between the objects of our solar system.

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Related Programming Resources

Add a Tech Twist Optional: Try using Google Earth or another map mobile application to help create a sense of scale!
Hints for uses in your library This activity is great for a star party!
Related Links Websites:
NASA Space Place: Solar System
NASA Solar System Exploration
What is a Planet?
Our Solar System
The Other Distant Giants Are Kindred Planets with Individual Quirks
Inner, Rocky Neighbors Are Siblings to Earth
Countless Small Objects Are Part of Our Solar System's Extended Family
Solar System in My Neighborhood: Planet Sizes and Distances
Optional: Family Portrait...in Numbers

Games, apps, and simulations:
NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System
Learn about our home planet, our solar system, the universe beyond, and the spacecraft exploring them with this downloadable application
A tediously accurate scale model of the solar system (scroll to explore)

Images:
Jupiter and its Moons
Mars Exploration
Mercury
Neptune and its Moons
Saturn
Uranus

Videos:
Stories of our Solar System
Solar System Exploration: Nat Geo
Video: A Stunning Scale Model of Our Solar System, Drawn in the Desert
How big is the solar system?
Where does the solar system end? A video about the Oort Cloud - Space Place in a Snap!
NISE Network: Strategies for Approaching Common Misconceptions Around Difficult Scientific Concepts
NISE Network: Pocket Solar System Content Training Video
Originating Source NASA's Night Sky Network
Related Books
[Suggest a book]
How Many Planets Circle the Sun?: And Other Questions About Our Solar System
The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home
The Darkest Dark
A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars
Space Machines
2018 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide
My tourist guide to the solar system and beyond
Look Inside Space
The Planets in Our Solar System:
The Planets
The Magic School Bus Lost In The Solar System
13 Planets : the Latest View of the Solar System
Postcards from Pluto : a Tour of the Solar System

Reviews

 
Rating 
Participants Enjoyed the Activity 
Participants Learned from This Activity 
Activity Instructions Were Clear and Easy to Follow 
Would Recommend 
06/10/2019

There's a solar system in my pocket!!

This is one of the easiest activities to facilitate for virtually any age group. The instructions are spot on, even including discussion points and facilitation hooks for inexperienced facilitators or facilitators with limited content knowledge. It also can be completed fairly quickly (15-20 minutes) to be paired with another activity or can be stretched out using those discussion points.

Personally, every time I have used this activity it has been paired with another activity. In the past, I have included it in discussions of understanding scale during engineering and math focused activities (participants usually have no problem understanding scale for things like furniture, vehicles, or buildings, but often don’t understand how to use it with much larger items/objects), as well as simply tying it in with other astronomy focused activities. My favorite pairings are with Sorting Games: How Big? How Far? How Hot? (http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/astronomy-and-space/77-how-big-how-far-how-hot-how-old.html) and/or Jump to Jupiter (http://clearinghouse.starnetlibraries.org/astronomy-and-space/65-jump-to-jupiter.html). The latter is great for tying in not just the scale between the planets, but also the scale of the planets themselves.

One final note, based on the age group, with younger participants, be sure to demonstrate how they should write the names of the planets on the pocket solar system. Also, be aware of those with large handwriting that might need help fitting the names of the planets, especially considering how tightly the inner planets are spaced.

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Pocket Solar System

Pocket Solar System

Using a strip of paper, patrons construct a quick scale model of the distances between the objects of our solar system.