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Short Description: The vastness of the solar system offers a unique lesson in large numbers and in scale. "The Schoolyard Solar System" was developed to demonstrate the solar system to scale; to show the relationship between units of thousands, millions and billions; and to accomplish these goals with student involvement that will re-enforce the lessons.
Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Our Solar System
Voyager 1 (Our Solar System),
Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)
Science Education Standards: Benchmarks
The Physical Setting: The Universe:
- Planets change their positions against the background of stars. 4A/E3
- The earth is one of several planets that orbit the sun, and the moon orbits around the earth. 4A/E4
- Nine planets of very different size, composition, and surface features move around the sun in nearly circular orbits. Some planets have a variety of moons and even flat rings of rock and ice particles orbiting around them. Some of these planets and moons show evidence of geologic activity. The earth is orbited by one moon, many artificial satellites, and debris. 4A/M3
- Many chunks of rock orbit the sun. Those that meet the earth glow and disintegrate from friction as they plunge through the atmosphere-and sometimes impact the ground. Other chunks of rock mixed with ice have long, off-center orbits that carry them close to the sun, where the sun's radiation (of light and particles) boils off frozen materials from their surfaces and pushes it into a long, illuminated tail. 4A/M4
National Science Education Standards
Content Standard D: Earth and Space Science:
Grades 5-6: Earth in the Solar System
- The earth is the third planet from the sun in a system that includes the moon, the sun, eight other planets and their moons, and smaller objects, such as asteroids and comets. The sun, an average star, is the central and largest body in the solar system.
- Most objects in the solar system are in regular and predictable motion. Those motions explain such phenomena as the day, the year, phases of the moon, and eclipses.
Source: National Space Science Data Center