model, solar system, rotation, orbits, sun, revolution, motion
K, 1, 2, 3
2 Hours Total
Students will create a working model of the solar system.
To develop an understanding about planets rotating on their axes and their revolution around the sun within orbits.
Video of the solar system
Large, teacher made diagram of the solar system
Teacher made planet info cards
Picture of the planet.
Distance and order from sun
Planet before and after it
Amount of time for one rotation
Four planet markers for each planet (picture and name of planet
Preparation and Set Up:
Make large solar system diagram.
Construct planet info cards.
Create planet markers.
Arrange students into four groups.
Distribute materials to the class.
Show students video on solar system. This video should include information about rotation and revolution.
Talk about the meaning of rotation and revolution.
Ask the students:
How can you demonstrate the motions in the solar system?
Break into groups and tell students that they can use anything in the classroom to aid their demonstration.
Students will be allowed approximately 10 minutes to complete the task.
Have each group present their demonstration.
After the group demonstrations, explain to students that they will recreate a model of the solar system’s motions by using themselves as the sun and planets.
Assign individuals, or small groups of individuals to be a specific planet, or the sun.
Each group will be given a ball of string, four planet marker cards, and a planet info card that tells them the length of string they should cut to replicate their planets orbit.
Bring the class to a large open area.
You could clear the classroom by pushing desks to the side, go outside, use gymnasium or multi-purpose room.
Decide where to place the sun first.
The “Planet” groups will use tape measures to determine how far away from the sun they should stand. Students should place their markers at 4 spots with the same radius from the sun where their orbit will be.
Have students place their strings to mark their orbits.
Each student group will choose one member to stand on their orbit in a straight line from the sun.
Using one student as an example show how the student would revolve around the sun while rotating on their axis.
Have nine the students orbit the sun, each representing a planet.
Have the class come together to discuss the difference between rotation and revolution. Students can write their explanations on a paper using words or diagrams.
Solar System, ROV, planet, beam, bricks, plates, axles, Solar Energy, Light Sensor
Subject and Grade Level
NXT, K, 1, 2, 3
1 Hour Total
- Program a NXT ROV to travel from Earth to an assigned planet.
- Use this activity to learn about the solar system.
- One pre-built NXT car for each pair of students.
- ‘Solar System’ that can be laid out on the floor, which shows all nine planets including earth. These can be marked off with tape, construction paper circles, etc.
- ‘ROVing Away’ activity worksheet.
- Planet fact cards set at each planet.
- Postcards from Pluto, by Loreen Leedy.
Preparation and Set Up:
- Create ‘Solar System’ and planet facts.
- Lay out ‘Solar System’ and planet facts.
- Distribute NXT cars.
- Distribute activity worksheets.
- Break students into groups of 2.
- The teacher should do some research on each planet so that students can discuss the solar system after the activity. Wikipedia should have sufficient information on the solar system for this activity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_system.
(optional) Read Postcards from Pluto by Loreen Leedy to the class. This will serve as review and set up for the lesson.
Divide students into groups and assign each group a planet (there may be repeats).
Tell students to make an educated guess as to how long they think their trip might take from Earth to their assigned planet. Have students program their car to run for this amount of time and then stop.
Tell students that since the planets are different distances from Earth, the time that each group programs into their NXT should be different.
Tell students to reenter new times until their car stops exactly at the designated planet.
Come together as a class and discuss the difficulties and successes that each group had.
Have each student read their planet fact card to the class to facilitate discussion on the solar system.
Extensions or Modifications:
- Use a light sensor to program the car when to stop.
- Program the NXT car to turn around and return to Earth.
- Program the NXT to turn and stop when it is facing the sun. The sun can be represented as a flashlight and the device used to make the NXT stop is the light sensor.