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Solar System Activities
The lessons below are teacher-favorite lessons focused on our solar system. For more search options or to search by other science target, missions and other criteria, visit our Fast Lesson Finder. You can also search by curriculum standards on our popular Curriculum Standards Quilts.


Our Solar System Lessons:

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The Classroom Magnetometer
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth)

Short Description: Students build and operate a simple magnetometer using a soda bottle and a bar magnet, and use it to monitor changes in Earth's magnetic field.


The Orbit Simulator
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: This simulator lets students explore many aspects of the orbits of planets -- and one comet. This could be a great teaching tool.


The Pull of the Planets
Topic: Gravity: It's What Keeps Us Together
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Jupiter
Mission: Juno (Jupiter)

Short Description: Students model the gravitational fields of planets on a flexible surface. Children place and move balls of different sizes and densities on a plastic sheet to develop a mental picture of how the mass of an object influences how much affect it has on the surrounding space.


The Solar Wind Tunnel: A Comet Borrelly Interactive
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets, Comets
Mission: Rosetta (Comets), SOHO (Comets), Wind (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students compare their observations of the solar wind's interaction with magnetized planets, non-magnetized planets, comets, and asteroids, and record their observations online.


The Thousand Yard Model
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: This is a classic exercise for visualizing just how BIG our solar system really is. Both the relative size and spacing of the planets are demonstrated in this outdoor exercise, using a mere peppercorn to represent the size of the Earth.


The Voyage Scale Model Solar System
Topic: Scale of Our Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Mercury
Mission: Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System)

Short Description: In October 2001, the Voyage Scale Model Solar System opened in Washington, DC, displaying a one to ten billion scale of the sizes of the sun and planets, and the distances between them. In this lesson, students will replicate the Voyage model to experience the size of the solar system.


Time Lineup
Topic: Evolving Worlds: Planets, Like People, Grow and Change Over Time
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Dwarf Planets, Comets, Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud, Earth's Moon
Mission: ARTEMIS (Earth's Moon), Cassini (Saturn), Dawn (Dwarf Planets), Galileo (Jupiter), Hubble (Beyond Our Solar System), InSight (Mars), Juno (Jupiter), LADEE (Earth's Moon), Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon), MSL / Curiosity (Mars), MAVEN (Mars), MESSENGER (Mercury), Viking 01 (Mars), Viking 02 (Mars), Voyager 1 (Our Solar System), Voyager 2 (Our Solar System), WISE (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students work in groups or as a class to determine the order of events that formed our solar system. This is an excellent activity to begin discussion of events that shaped the solar system and how Earth's geosphere and biosphere have changed -- in an interrelated manner -- through time.


Tracking a Solar Storm
Topic: Ancient Astronomers / Modern Tools, Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: This is a pair of high school-level workbooks featuring advanced problems in mathematics and science that are based on experiments performed with the IMAGE satellite.


What Are We Made Of? The Sun, the Earth, and You
Topic: Formation of the Solar System
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun
Mission: Genesis (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students learn that elements are the basic building blocks of all things found on Earth and in space including water, the human body, the Earth, the Sun, and the planets. By counting elements extracted from a simulated sample, students explore how the extraction of atoms from the Genesis samples help scientists have a better understanding of the abundances of elements from the solar wind. This hands-on experience helps students discover that the elemental abundances from the Sun can be used as a baseline to compare with the diverse bodies of our solar system.

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Last Updated: 8 Apr 2014