Extension Activities

1. The Toilet Paper Solar System

Grade Level Content: K-8
Processes: Observing, Communicating, 
Comparing
Developmental Stages: Sensory Motor, Pre-Conceptual, Intuitive, 
Concrete-Operational
Activity:
Students make a distance-scale solar system model with toilet paper. 

Science Standards
Scientific Models (scale) 

Objectives:

  • The student will identify attributes to classify planets in our solar system.
  • The student will draw and describe one planetary object.
  • The student will observe the relative distance between planets.

  •  

     

    Materials:

  • pictures of the solar system
  • 10 large white sheets of poster board
  • coloring markers
  • reference books for pictures of the planets
  • one roll of traditional school-grade bond toilet paper



  • Introduction:
    Interplanetary travel is extremely difficult due to the almost unimaginable distances between the planets in our solar system. Voyager II, traveling at nearly 50,000 mph took 12 years to reach the planet Neptune. We can make a scale model of the distances between the planets using almost anything as our reference. In doing so, we may be able to determine a variety of ways to classify the planets of our solar system. It is almost impossible to make a scale model of the solar system that is correct in both planetary diameter and distance. Using a 1 m Sun and a 5 mm Earth, Pluto is found almost one half mile away; using 1 sheet = 10,000,000 miles. 

    Directions:
    1. Using the large poster paper, illustrate in detail the Sun and each of the nine planets on individual sheets (one object per sheet). Write interesting facts about the object on the back of the poster. 

    2. Place all of the posters at the front of the room. List as many ways as possible to classify (group) them by the appearance of the posters. 

    3. Using a roll of school-grade toilet tissue, mark off the distances to the planets using a scale of one tissue = 10,000,000 miles (refer to the sheet on the following page). Have an individual hold a planet-poster at each of the appropriate distances. 

    4. List some more ways to classify the planets by various attributes.

    THE TOILET PAPER SOLAR SYSTEM

    SCALE MODE:

    Using a scale of 1 standard sheet of toilet tissue as 10,000,000 miles, we can use the unwound length of the roll of tissue as a ruler for a scale model of the solar system.
     
     
    Celestial  Object
    Number of Sheets from Sun
    # of Tissues from previous object
    Sun
    0.0
    0.0
    Mercury
    3.6
    3.6
    Venus
    6.7
    3.1
    Earth
    9.3
    2.6
    Mars
    14.1
    4.8
    Jupiter
    48.4
    34.3
    Saturn
    88.7
    40.3
    Uranus
    178.6
    90
    Neptune
    280.0
    101.0
    Pluto (avg. orbit)
    366.4
    86.4

    Q. Alpha Centari is the closest visible star to our Sun. How many sheets away is it?

    Answer:
    It is located 25,000,000,000,000 miles away or 2,500,000 sheets away (200 miles on this scale).
    In this model, the Sun is 0.4 inch in diameter and the Earth is 0.001 inch in diameter.
     
     

    2. Using Image Processing to Measure Planet Size

    Grade Level Content: 5-8
    Processes: Observing, Communicating, 
    Comparing
    Developmental Stages: Sensory Motor, Pre-Conceptual, Intuitive, 
    Concrete-Operational

    Using the downloaded images or the scale models compare the Earth to three, five or all of the other planets using the above activities. 

    Use the activity at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/galileo/features/imaging.html

    Sample planet comparisons are available at:
    http://ic-www.arc.nasa.gov/ic/projects/bayes-group/Atlas/size/Earth

    After downloading images, learners can measure images using tools they select. (paper clips, small beads, dried beans/peas, etc.).  Using different units leads to further discovery about standard units of measurement.  When possible, image analysis software and other electronic resources should be used. 

    NIH Image for :
    PC: http://www.scioncorp.com/ or MAC: http://rsb.info.nih.gov/nih-image