Thursday, May 23, 2013

Solar System Bracelet

Constructing a Solar System Bracelet is a GREAT activity for students in grades 6-9. My ninth graders loved it! Explain how to make them, and then allow 40 minutes for construction. To learn how to make the bracelets CLICK HERE - site may not open on some mobile devices.

There is no question that making the bracelet makes students much more interested in the solar system, however (like most diagrams and models of the solar system) the bracelet does not accurately depict the sizes AND distances. So, it's important to set aside time to help students understand these. Start by asking students why it is so difficult to make a model of the solar system that accurately shows BOTH sizes and distances. Next, use the following tips to help them understand.

Reality Check
If you could shrink everything in the galaxy so the Sun is 1 cm in diameter (as it is on the bracelet) . . .
1. Jupiter would have a diameter of 1 mm (.1 cm) and would be 18 feet 4 inches away!
2. Earth would be the size of a speck of dust and would be 5 feet 4 inches away!
3. Alpha Centauri would be 180 miles away!
4. Betelgeuse would be over 12 feet in diameter!
5. Go to BUILD A SOLAR SYSTEM web site and enter 10 mm for the diameter of the Sun to learn about other sizes and distances. If you could shrink everything so that the Earth is ~4 mm in diameter (as it is on the bracelet), enter 450 mm for the Sun's diameter to find out how big and far away things would be.
6. Students often want to whether or not the planets will ever line up. The answer is "no". To see the current position of the planets, go to the SOLAR SYSTEM VIEWER web site. Enter "800-1000" for the "size", and then select "update".
7. For another fun interactive, check out the SOLAR SYSTEM VISUALIZER.
This will be the last post of the school year. Have a great summer! To view a convenient list of all the resources that have been posted on this "Earth Science Guy" blog site, CLICK HERE.


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