Paper Mache Solar System

Fe Andres Juachon Alexander Hamilton
1650 W. Cornelia
Chicago IL 60657
(312) 534-5485

Objectives: The students will be involved in hands-on laboratory activities to learn: 1) The relative sizes of the planets in the Solar System. 2) The relative spacing of the Solar System. 3) The cause of the phases of our moon. Materials needed: Round balloons of different sizes 9 styrofoam balls Plaster of Paris Transparent light bulb Strings 9 dowel rods Newsprint Globe Strategy: Begin by reviewing what the solar system consists and naming the nine planets in the order of their distance from the sun. In order to see the relationship of the size of planets and their relative distance from the sun construct models to scale. (See table on the next page.) Models made of paper-mache can be used. Shape each planet to the desired size and bake it in an oven for one-half hour. For each of the larger planets blow up a balloon to one inch less than the desired size. Mold a half-inch of paper-mache over the balloon and let it dry for several days. The planets can be suspended by strings from the ceiling of the room. Arrange them in the order from the sun. For the relative distances of the planets go out on the sidewalk. Designate each student to represent each planet. Reduce each distance to human footsteps and measure steps down the sidewalk. To show the phases of the moon, set a lamp without a shade on a table in a dark room. Stand several feet away from the lamp. Hold a ball out in front of you so it is in line with your eyes and the bulb of the lamp. The light is the sun, the bulb is the moon, and you are on the earth. Now move the moon (bulb) slightly to the left of the bulb. How much of the moon is lighted at this point. Turn on your heels so that the ball moves in a circle. At which point is there a full moon? a new moon? a quarter moon? Conclusions: The students could make a drawing of what they created. They could write a composition showing step by step how to construct the models. For the phases of the moon, the students could work with the real moon. Every three nights for one month they can diagram the shape of the moon that is reflecting light. Have them date their pictures. If a night is overcast, leave a space in their series of drawings. They can fill in the empty spaces at the end of the month to show the phases of the moon that did occur on those cloudy nights. Does the moon rotate as well as revolve? (Yes) Planet Average distance Scale distance from sun (km) from sun (cm) --------------------------------------------------------------- Mercury 58 000 000 5.8 (5 footsteps) Venus 108 000 000 10.8 (10 footsteps) Earth 150 000 000 15.0 (15 footsteps) Mars 229 000 000 22.9 (22 footsteps) Jupiter 777 000 000 11.1 (11 footsteps) Saturn 1 426 000 000 142.6 (142 footsteps) Uranus 2 876 000 000 287.6 (287 footsteps) Neptune 4 490 000 000 449.0 (449 footsteps) Pluto 5 914 000 000 591.4 (591 footsteps) ------------------------------------------------------------------- Scale of distances 1 cm = 10 000 000 km Planet Scale diameters of planets --------------------------------------------- Mercury .76 inches Venus 1.90 inches Earth 2.00 inches Mars 1.06 inches Jupiter 22.36 inches Saturn 18.00 inches Uranus 7.74 inches Neptune 7.8 inches Pluto .54 inches
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