This activity allows you and your students to experience the sizes and distances of the planets on the same scale. Most similar activities use a different scale for each, which can cause misconceptions. The Solar System Stroll activity is available for download. (copy permission is granted for educational use, but not for redistribution for profit)
Use OUR model when you visit!
If you plan a 2 hour visit to the planetarium, you could stroll through OUR 1 kilometer scale model of the solar system in front of Memorial High School. These arrangements can be made when making your planetarium reservations.
Intended Audience: grades 3-adult
This program is intended for groups who already have a good background in the basic characteristics of the planets. Younger groups should plan their visit near the end of some type of "Solar System" unit. Older groups might want to review the basic characteristics of each planet before your visit.
Outline of concepts to be presented
Expanded description: this program acknowledges the fast-paced nature of astronomy discoveries today, and is intended to provide information on recent discoveries related to the Solar System. You'll learn about the various space probes which are currently exploring a planet, probes en route, recent probes, and probes planned to be launched soon. The teacher/group leader can specify any particular emphasis he/she would like while making reservations.
- astronomy is probably one of the oldest natural sciences.
- with new theories and new discoveries put forth every day, astronomy is an evolving body of knowledge.
- since the planets are far away, astronomers must learn about them through either telescopes or space probes.
Connecting to the Classroom
This program works well as an extension to a typical unit on the solar system at the elementary through high school levels. It could also help to "kick-off" a middle or high school unit related to planetary science.
Activities you might consider doing in the classroom include things like:
- experience the size and distance to the planets on the same scale with our Solar System Stroll activity (could be done at the planetarium in addition to this program).
- use the award winning Mission to Mars web site to design your own space probe to search for evidence of life on Mars.
- use the Internet to research about a planet and get the most current information; include a study of the space probes which might be exploring it now, or will be soon (see our Astro Links for sources).
- design a human colony on another planet or moon; this could include a floating "cloud city" for one of the largest planets.
- design a travel brochure for a trip to somewhere in the solar system; if possible, include photos from NASA web sites (see our Astro Links for sources).
Also visit the Solar System section of our Astro Links. You'll find an astronomical number of great resources with the most current information (yes...pun intended).