# The Planets of Our Solar System Project - Solar System Beads

## The Planets of Our Solar System Project - Solar System Beads

Our Solar System consists of the Sun, the planets and their moons, and other celestial bodies like comets, asteroids, and meteoroids. It is a star system that is immense in size and is held together by a strong gravitational force. The Solar System is huge with the planets far apart from each other and from the Sun. If they weren't, they would get sucked up by the Solar System’s strong gravitational force. These distances are difficult to express in standard units of measurements such as kilometers or miles simply because they can get very large. Scientists use astronomical units (AU) when measuring distances in the Solar System. One astronomical unit is interpreted as the distance of Earth from the Sun.

This image shows the relative distances between planets in our Solar System. The Sun and planets are not on the same scale, but are approximately scaled by size ratio. The diameters of the planets and the distance between planets are not on the same scale either due to size constraints. Image source: Solar System distances by Aeddub_commonswiki is licensed under CC 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Here are some fun images to use in class to help you get your students to remember the planets and their unique characteristics.

In this laboratory activity, you will make a scale model of a Solar System using arts and crafts materials such as strings and beads. Making a scale model of the Solar System is easy if you remember to use each planet’s distance from the Sun measured in AU and convert this measured distance to centimeters through simple calculations.

## The Planets of Our Solar System Project Learning Objectives:

At the end of this laboratory activity, students are expected to:

• Convert measured distances in AU to centimeters using a scale factor.
• Construct a scale model of the Solar System.
• Observe the relative distances of the planets, asteroid belt, and dwarf planet Pluto from each other and the Sun.

### NGSS Standards Covered

• MS-ESS1-2 Develop and use a model to describe the role of gravity in the motions within galaxies and the solar system.
• MS-ESS1-3 Analyze and interpret data to determine scale properties of objects in the solar system.

## Solar System Project Laboratory Proper:

MS-ESS1-2 Develop and use a model to describe the role of gravity in the motions within galaxies and the solar system.

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

## Solar System Beads Lab Materials:

• Large craft pony beads (11 different colors — roughly the appearance of the planets and the Sun)
• Five meters of string
• Small piece of cardboard to wrap Solar System string (around 10 cm x 10 cm)
• Metric ruler

Note: Work with your groupmates in doing this activity. Make sure to take turns in exploring the use of each measuring equipment in this activity.

## Solar System Beads Lab Activity Procedure:

1. Calculate the value for each solar system object using a scale factor of 10 centimeters per astronomical unit (AU).
 Solar System Object AU Scale Value (centimeters) Bead Color Sun 0.0 yellow Mercury 0.4 solid red Venus 0.7 cream Earth 1.0 clear blue Mars 1.5 clear red Asteroid belt 2.8 black Jupiter 5.2 orange Saturn 9.6 clear gold Uranus 19.2 dark blue Neptune 30.0 light blue Pluto 39.5 brown
1. Measure and cut a piece of string 4.5 meters long.
2. Using the calculated centimeter distance, tie the bead onto the string using a double knot.
3. When finished, wrap the Solar System string (with beads) around the cardboard holder.

## The Planets of Our Solar System Project Data and Results

1. List the planets in the Solar System starting from the nearest to farthest from the Sun.
2. How are inner and outer planets different?
3. Describe an asteroid belt and the Kuiper Belt.

## Discuss the following with your students:

1. How would you describe the distances of the Solar System objects from the Sun?
2. Why do you think outer planets are so far apart from each other?
3. What do you think will happen if planets are closer together?

## The Planets of Our Solar System Worksheets - Word Docs & PowerPoints

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