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Solar System Spacing


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Solar System Spacing




Objectives

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Resources required per student (or group)





  • student worksheet

  • roll of toilet paper (with minimum of 120 sheets)

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Teaching activities
Introduction
The Solar System is a very large place and it is hard to get a feeling of the distances between the planets. The students can either use the real distances of the planets from the Sun to work out how many sheets of toilet paper are required given the scale, or they can be given the number of sheets of toilet paper to make the scale model.
Activity
The activity should start with a summary of the planets that make up our Solar System and which orbit the Sun at the centre. The planets are (starting with the planet closest to the Sun and moving out):


  • Mercury

  • Venus

  • Earth

  • Mars

  • Jupiter

  • Saturn

  • Uranus

  • Neptune

  • Pluto (Pluto is now known as a dwarf planet)

The planets orbit the Sun in ellipses rather perfect circles and the distances used in this activity represent the average distance of the planet from the Sun. Once the students are familiar with the planets they can make the scale model to show just how far apart they are.


Each group of students needs to start by drawing and labelling the Sun on the toilet paper. Do not tear sheets off, but instead unravel the roll. They should draw the Sun on the seam between the first and second sheets. The roll can then be unravelled further and the sheets counted until the correct spacing for the next planet is reached. This planet can then drawn and labelled. If desired one student can stand at this point to represent the planet. Continue to do this until all the planets have been spaced out.
The distances on the worksheet have been rounded to the nearest million km and the scale is:
sheet of toilet paper = 50,000,000 km
If the students are calculating the number of sheets of toilet paper required for the correct spacing of the planets from the Sun the calculation they need to do is:
Number of sheets = real distance (km)

50,000,000 km




Distance worksheet



Name:
1 sheet of toilet paper = 50,000,000 km


Can you space the planets correctly?



Planet name

Distance from Sun (km)

Number of sheets of toilet paper from Sun

Mercury

58,000,000




Venus

108,000,000




Earth

150,000,000




Mars

228,000,000




Jupiter

778,000,000




Saturn

1,430,000,000




Uranus

2,871,000,000




Neptune

4,504,000,000




Pluto

5,914,000,000





Distance worksheet


Name:
1 sheet of toilet paper = 50,000,000 km




Planet name

Distance from Sun (km)

Number of sheets of toilet paper from Sun

Mercury

58,000,000

1.16

Venus

108,000,000

2.16

Earth

150,000,000

3.00

Mars

228,000,000

4.56

Jupiter

778,000,000

15.56

Saturn

1,430,000,000

28.60

Uranus

2,871,000,000

57.42

Neptune

4,504,000,000

90.08

Pluto

5,914,000,000

118.28


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