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Solar system.

solar system assignment

The solar system is an amazing and complex network of planets, stars, moons, asteroids, and even mysterious black holes. It doesn't matter if you're ten or fifty, just thinking about the stars and the possibilities fills the mind with wonder.

The solar system proves an abundance of learning opportunities. You can teach about astronomy, physics, or biology. It provides a huge opportunity for hands-on learning activities and science experiments. Watch their young eyes fill with wonder as they contemplate the moon and how the earth was created.

Solar System Teaching Resources

The right classroom resources help you teach about the solar system. Imagine what a few gorgeous clip art pieces or printables can do to engage your young students. TeacherPlanet.com offers a wealth of teaching resources dedicated to the solar system. Browse the site and you'll find lesson plans, worksheets and activities along with an abundance of resources and fun clip art.

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Planets and Solar System

This is our collection of solar system, outer space, and planet worksheets that you use for your Science lessons.

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Solar System

Solar System explores the world around Earth, particularly the planets and the asteroid belt. Students will discover interesting facts about each planet, including their orbit and rotation times and the elements from which they are made. They will also learn the order of the planets and be able to compare and contrast them.

The “Options for Lesson” section provides several suggestions for alternative or additional things to do during the lesson. One such suggestion is to have students use a multimedia presentation, such as PowerPoint, to present the information they researched for the second activity.

Description

Additional information, what our solar system lesson plan includes.

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Solar System teaches students about the eight planets and other parts that compose our solar system. Students will discover facts about each of the planets and learn about the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and the number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand.

The Solar Systems lesson plan requires quite a few extra supplies and some preparation. In addition to the handouts, you will need compasses, string, plain white paper, glue or tape, black construction paper, scissors, rulers with millimeter units, and other supplies students would need for their planet presentations. You also need to ensure they have access to the internet or other sources for research purposes.

To prepare for the lesson, create labels for the eight planets, the sun, and the asteroid belt. Locate an area to do a scale model of planet distances from the sun, such as a large field near the school. Collect compasses and string to draw circles with, and create a scale model of the sun to display in the classroom. Alternatively, you could ask for a student volunteer to create it during the lesson using yellow paper. Make sure the “sun” is 54.8 inches in diameter.

Options for Lesson

The “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page lists several suggestions for additional activity, alternate ways to approach aspects of the lesson, and so on. Most of the suggestions relate to the activities specifically. Students could work alone for one or both activities if you prefer. You could also eliminate one of the activities if you don’t have time to do both. For the second activity, you may want students to turn in their work rather than present them to the class. Alternatively, you could require students present during the second activity using PowerPoint or similar presentation software. One option that doesn’t relate to the activities suggests making Step 16 of the classroom procedure guide a writing assignment rather than just a discussion point to wrap up the lesson plan.

Teacher Notes

The paragraph on the teacher notes page provides an extra bit of information or guidance as you prepare. It suggests you take advantage of the abundance of information online about the solar system. It advises you to make this lesson as hands-on and creative as possible to fully engage students as they learn. Use the blank lines on this page to write down any other ideas or thoughts you have before delivering the lesson to your students.

SOLAR SYSTEM LESSON PLAN CONTENT PAGES

Introduction.

The Solar System lesson plan has two pages of content. The lesson introduces the topic by describing how many stars are visible in the night sky. These stars are millions and millions of miles away. They are all part of other solar systems, not ours. A solar system includes a sun (which is a star itself) and the planets and other objects that travel around it.

Our sun is a star just like all the others in the night sky. The sun is far closer to the Earth, which is why it is so much bigger and brighter than the others. It is mostly a big ball of gases, which includes hydrogen and helium. The planet that orbits closest to the sun is Mercury. The next one, and the hottest of the eight planets, is Venus. Following Venus are Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

Speaking of orbits, an orbit is the path a planet takes when traveling around the sun. It takes on more of an oval shape than a perfect circle. Not every planet’s orbit takes the same amount of time. For Earth, it takes about 365 days to orbit the sun, which is why we consider one year to be 365 days long.

A Year and a Day

A year for Earth is not the same as a year for other planets in the solar system if a year equates to the time it takes a planet to completely orbit the sun. However, it is useful to compare the orbits of other planets using what we call Earth years and days. The lesson provides a chart that lists the planets’ orbits using Earth days and years as the unit of measurement.

Mercury’s orbit takes 88 days total. That means that it orbits the sun just over four times in a single year. It takes Venus 224 days to completely orbit the sun, and Mars takes 687 days. The outer four planets take much longer. Jupiter’s orbit is 11.8 years, Saturn’s is 29.6 years, and Uranus’ is 84.3 years. Neptune takes the longest at 165 Earth years! The further away the planet is from the sun, the longer it takes that planet to orbit the sun.

The lesson then provides students with a chart of the planets’ daily rotation times. The amount of time a planet takes to rotate on its axis differs from other planets just as its orbit does. This amount of time is what we consider the length of a day. For Earth, of course, it takes 24 hours to spin on its axis in a full rotation. Again, the length of a “day” for other planets is not the same as it is for Earth, but the lesson compares each planet’s day using Earth’s time units.

Mercury takes 60 whole days to rotate once around its axis. Venus takes 243 days. Students may recognize at this point that a day for Venus is actually longer than a year! Mars takes about the same time as Earth. It rotates fully in 24.3 hours. Jupiter only takes 9.8 hours. Saturn spins completely around on its axis in 10.2 hours. Uranus spins in 17.1 hours, and Neptune takes 16 hours. This time, the further a planet is from the sun, the less time it takes to rotate (except for Neptune).

Other Cool Facts about the Solar System

The last page describes the types of planets that our solar system contains. Our planets come in different sizes and are comprised of various substances. The four inner planets are made of rock that contains many different minerals. The four outer planets, on the other hand, are mostly made up of gases. Jupiter specifically is mostly helium, hydrogen, and water. The outer planets also have rings that encircle them.

Students will learn a little about other objects that float around in the solar system. Six planets have moons, for instance. A moon is an object in space that orbits another body (like a planet) in space. Earth only has one moon, but other planets have many more.

The asteroid belt is another interesting feature of our solar system, located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It contains thousands and thousands of asteroids, which are space rocks that scientists believe are leftovers from the beginning of the solar system. Some are very large and can be miles and miles across, but most asteroids are small.

Here is a list of the vocabulary words students will learn in this lesson plan:

  • Star: a big ball of gas burning in space
  • Orbit: the path a planet takes to travel around the sun
  • Moon: a celestial object (object in space) that orbits another body in space
  • Asteroid belt: a belt of tons of asteroids that float between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter
  • Asteroid: a space rock that scientists believe are leftover pieces of rock from the beginning of the solar system

SOLAR SYSTEM LESSON PLAN WORKSHEETS

The Solar System lesson plan contains three worksheets—two activity worksheets and a homework assignment—and an address card. The worksheets will help students solidify the concepts they learned about throughout the lesson. The address card is for the opening of the lesson. The guidelines on the classroom procedure pages explain when to hand out the worksheets to the class.

COMPARING PLANET SIZES ACTIVITY WORKSHEET

For this activity, students will work with a partner to create a poster that shows the different sizes of the planets in the solar system. First, they will draw the circles to the scale on the right side of the worksheet. Then they will cut out each circle and glue them onto black construction paper in order. Then, they will label the planets and title the poster. Finally, they will answer four questions on the second worksheet.

PLANET RESEARCH ACTIVITY WORKSHEET

For the next activity, students will work with a partner to research a specific part of the solar system. You will assign each group a specific piece of the solar system to research and present on. The worksheet lists the instructions and provides a number of data points that the students should include in their presentations. They will need to be creative, rather than simply gathering the information and reading it off to the class.

SOLAR SYSTEM CROSSWORD PUZZLE HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT

The homework assignment requires students to solve a crossword puzzle. There are 19 words and descriptions in total.

Worksheet Answer Key

The lesson plan document provides an answer key for the homework worksheet near the end. It provides the answers in red to make it easy to compare with students’ responses. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits this page. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep this as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

ADDRESS CARD

There is an address card at the very end PDF that you will use at the beginning of the lesson. Follow the instructions on the classroom procedure page for guidance.

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Solar system

I really appreciated this product during our Solar System Unit. The video was engaging and the hands on activities where so helpful for my 5th graders to understand the positioning of the planets to each other and the Sun. I would use other Learn Bright products in the future.

Very useful! Great resource!

Excellent Supplemental Materials

I love having this material available for my students. They are brightly colored, interesting, and incredibly easy to use.

The units are nice and they have lots of options, however I would have liked to see more in depth and longer units. That being said, for a free resource, it’s pretty awesome!

Really interesting, usefull and clear

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The solar system, explained

Our solar system is made up of the sun and all the amazing objects that travel around it.

The universe is filled with billions of star systems. Located inside galaxies, these cosmic arrangements are made up of at least one star and all the objects that travel around it, including planets, dwarf planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and meteoroids. The star system we’re most familiar with, of course, is our own.

Home sweet home

If you were to look at a giant picture of space, zoom in on the Milky Way galaxy , and then zoom in again on one of its outer spiral arms, you’d find the solar system. Astronomers believe it formed about 4.5 billion years ago, when a massive interstellar cloud of gas and dust collapsed on itself, giving rise to the star that anchors our solar system—that big ball of warmth known as the sun.

Along with the sun, our cosmic neighborhood includes the eight major planets. The closest to the sun is Mercury , followed by Venus , Earth, and Mars . These are known as terrestrial planets, because they’re solid and rocky. Beyond the orbit of Mars, you’ll find the main asteroid belt , a region of space rocks left over from the formation of the planets. Next come the much bigger gas giants Jupiter and Saturn , which is known for its large ring systems made of ice, rock, or both. Farther out are the ice giants Uranus and Neptune . Beyond that, a host of smaller icy worlds congregate in an enormous stretch of space called the Kuiper Belt. Perhaps the most famous resident there is Pluto . Once considered the ninth planet, Pluto is now officially classified as a dwarf planet , along with three other Kuiper Belt objects and Ceres in the asteroid belt.

Moons and other matter

More than 150 moons orbit worlds in our solar system. Known as natural satellites, they orbit planets, dwarf planets, asteroids, and other debris. Among the planets, moons are more common in the outer reaches of the solar system. Mercury and Venus are moon-free, Mars has two small moons, and Earth has just one. Meanwhile, Jupiter and Saturn have dozens, and Uranus and Neptune each have more than 10. Even though it’s relatively small, Pluto has five moons, one of which is so close to Pluto in size that some astronomers argue Pluto and this moon, Charon, are a binary system.

an illustration of the solar system.

Too small to be called planets, asteroids are rocky chunks that also orbit our sun along with the space rocks known as meteoroids. Tens of thousands of asteroids are gathered in the belt that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Comets, on the other hand, live inside the Kuiper Belt and even farther out in our solar system in a distant region called the Oort cloud .

Atmospheric conditions

The solar system is enveloped by a huge bubble called the heliosphere . Made of charged particles generated by the sun, the heliosphere shields planets and other objects from high-speed interstellar particles known as cosmic rays. Within the heliosphere, some of the planets are wrapped in their own bubbles—called magnetospheres —that protect them from the most harmful forms of solar radiation. Earth has a very strong magnetosphere, while Mars and Venus have none at all.

Most of the major planets also have atmospheres . Earth’s is composed mainly of nitrogen and oxygen—key for sustaining life. The atmospheres on terrestrial Venus and Mars are mostly carbon dioxide, while the thick atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are made primarily of hydrogen and helium. Mercury doesn’t have an atmosphere at all. Instead scientists refer to its extremely thin covering of oxygen, hydrogen, sodium, helium, and potassium as an exosphere.

Moons can have atmospheres, too, but Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is the only one known to have a thick atmosphere, which is made mostly of nitrogen.

Life beyond?

For centuries astronomers believed that Earth was the center of the universe, with the sun and all the other stars revolving around it. But in the 16th century, German mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus upended that theory by providing strong evidence that Earth and the other planets travel around the sun.

Today, astronomers are studying other stars in our galaxy that host planets, including some star systems like our own that have multiple planetary companions. Based on the thousands of known worlds spotted so far, scientists estimate that billions of planetary systems must exist in the Milky Way galaxy alone.

So does Earth have a twin somewhere in the universe? With ever-advancing telescopes, robots, and other tools, astronomers of the future are sure to find out.

For Hungry Minds

Related topics.

  • SOLAR SYSTEM
  • SPACE EXPLORATION
  • PLANETARY MOONS

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About the Planets

Our solar system has eight planets, and five dwarf planets - all located in an outer spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy called the Orion Arm.

Dwarf Planets

The solar system has eight planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. There are five officially recognized dwarf planets in our solar system: Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris.

The inner, rocky planets are  Mercury ,  Venus ,  Earth , and  Mars . These worlds also are known as terrestrial planets because they have solid surfaces. Mercury, Earth, and Mars are currently being explored by spacecraft. Two rovers are on the surface of Mars. NASA's rover – Perseverance –  landed on Mars  on Feb. 18, 2021. Three missions are in development to return to Venus.

The outer planets are gas giants  Jupiter  and  Saturn , and ice giants  Uranus  and  Neptune . NASA's Juno spacecraft is on an extended mission at Jupiter, and ESA's JUICE mission is on the way to the Jovian system. NASA's Europa Clipper is launching in October 2024 to explore Jupiter's icy moon, Europa. The agency's Dragonfly rotorcraft lander will launch to Saturn's moon, Titan, no earlier than 2028.

Beyond Neptune, a newer class of smaller worlds called dwarf planets reign, including longtime favorite  Pluto . NASA's New Horizons spacecraft visited Pluto in 2015, and is currently exploring the Kuiper Belt beyond Pluto. The other dwarf planets are Ceres , Makemake , Haumea , and Eris . Ceres, by the way, is the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system. It's located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Thousands more planets have been discovered beyond our solar system. Scientists call them  exoplanets  (exo means "from outside").

Planet Facts

Mercury is gray with bright white patches, and craters visible in this image from the MESSENGER spacecraft.

Mercury Facts

The smallest planet in our solar system and nearest to the Sun, Mercury is only slightly larger than Earth's Moon. From the surface of Mercury, the Sun would appear more than three times as large as it does when viewed from Earth, and the sunlight would be as much as seven times brighter.

Explore Mercury

A serene-looking Venus with creamy white, and tan clouds.

Venus Facts

Venus is the second planet from the Sun, and Earth's closest planetary neighbor. It's the hottest planet in our solar system, and it is sometimes called Earth's twin.

Explore Venus

A view of Earth from Apollo 17 showing the blue ocean, reddish brown landmasses, and wispy, white clouds.

Earth Facts

Earth – our home planet – is the third planet from the Sun, and the fifth largest planet. It's the only place we know of inhabited by living things.

Explore Earth

Mars is a reddish brown in this image from a spacecraft. A deep gash is visible across the center of the planet.

Mars – the fourth planet from the Sun – is a dusty, cold, desert world with a very thin atmosphere. This dynamic planet has seasons, polar ice caps, extinct volcanoes, canyons and weather.

Explore Mars

A view of Jupiter's Great Red Spot and colorful cloud bands of tan, brown, white, and orange as seen from the Juno spacecraft.

Jupiter Facts

Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system – if it were a hollow shell, 1,000 Earths could fit inside. It's also the oldest planet, forming from the dust and gases left over from the Sun's formation 4.5 billion years ago.

Explore Jupiter

A spacecraft looks down on a soft gold-colored Saturn surrounded by its rings.

Saturn Facts

Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun, and the second-largest planet in our solar system. Saturn is surrounded by a spectacular ring system, and it has dozens of moons.

Explore Saturn

Pale blue planet Uranus is seen against the darkness of space in an image from the Voyager 2 spacecraft.

Uranus Facts

Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun, and it has the third largest diameter of planets in our solar system. Uranus appears to spin sideways.

Explore Uranus

Neptune is blue and banded with clouds and storms.

Neptune Facts

Neptune is the eighth and most distant planet in our solar system. Dark, cold, and whipped by supersonic winds, ice giant Neptune is more than 30 times as far from the Sun as Earth. 

Explore Neptune

Dwarf Planet Facts

Gray Ceres has a bright spot near its upper left side in this image from NASA's Dawn spacecraft.

Ceres Facts

Dwarf planet Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and it's the only dwarf planet located in the inner solar system. When  NASA's Dawn  arrived in 2015, Ceres became the first dwarf planet to receive a visit from a spacecraft.

Explore Ceres

Pluto is reddish and has a heart shape lighter patch in the lower right half of this image from the New Horizons spacecraft.

Pluto Facts

Pluto was long considered our solar system's ninth planet. But after the discovery of similar intriguing worlds deep in the Kuiper Belt, tiny  Pluto was reclassified  as a dwarf planet in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union.

Explore Pluto

Dwarf planet Haumea looks like a bright dot with two smaller ones on each side.

Haumea Facts

Haumea was nicknamed Santa by one discovery team. It's oval-shaped, and is one of the fastest rotating large objects in our solar system. The fast spin distorts Haumea's shape, making this dwarf planet look like a football.

Explore Haumea

solar system assignment

Makemake Facts

Makemake is slightly smaller than Pluto, and is the second-brightest object in the Kuiper Belt as seen from Earth while Pluto is the brightest. 

Explore Makemake

A gray planet with a distant moon, and a faraway Sun.

The discovery of Eris help trigger a debate in the scientific community that led to the International Astronomical Union's decision in 2006 to clarify the definition of a planet. Pluto, Eris, and other similar objects are now classified as dwarf planets.

Explore Eris

What is a Planet?

This seemingly simple question doesn't have a simple answer.

Illustration of eight planets and one dwarf planet displayed three across and three down.

Is There Another Planet in the Solar System?

It's an intriguing idea that might explains some current mysteries, but direct evidence of another planet has yet to be found.

A dark, bluish planet is shown orbiting far from the Sun in this artist's concept.

Planet Sizes and Locations in Our Solar System

Our solar system has eight planets, and five officially recognized dwarf planets. Which planet is biggest? Which is smallest? What…

An illustration of colorful planets overlapping each other.

Discover More

Solar System Exploration

Orange sun with colorful planets trailing out to one side.

Kuiper Belt

Illustration of spacecraft near a giant space rock far from the Sun.

' class=

1. Learn about sizes and distances in our solar system

2. decide what kind of model you want to build, 3. choose where your model solar system will go, 4. calculate scale distances, 5. calculate scale planet sizes, 6. calculate combined scale distance and planet size, 7. create and display your model, 8. make a solar system on a string (scale distance model), 9. solar system on the sidewalk (scale distance and/or size model), 10. solar system in the yard (scale distance model).

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Make a Scale Solar System

Have you ever wondered about the sizes of planets in the solar system or the distances between them? In this project, you will create your own scale model of the solar system by learning how to calculate scale distances, the relative sizes of planets, or both. Then, use beads and string , sidewalk chalk , or your own creative choice of materials to build a model you can explore – or maybe even wear!

' title=

Materials of your choice for building your model (e.g., beads and string; chalk; distance markers, such as cones, ground stakes or popsicle sticks). See steps for more info.

Ruler with centimeter markings OR measuring tape

(Optional) Spreadsheet software (e.g., Excel or Google Sheets)

(Optional) Calculator

Distances in the solar system can be huge! The distance from the Sun to Neptune is nearly three billion miles (four billion kilometers). Because the distances between planets are so great, astronomers sometimes describe distances in terms of astronomical units (AU). One AU is equal to the average distance between the Sun and Earth, about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers). This allows scientists to describe and calculate distances more efficiently. For example, instead of saying, "Mars is 130 million miles from the Sun," scientists can say, "Mars is 1.5 AU from the Sun."

It's not just the distances between planets that are large. There are also huge differences in the size of each planet. Because of this, it can be difficult or even impossible to display both planet size and distance accurately, especially in smaller scale models like an image.

Watch this video about the size of planets and the distances between them to see how far they are from each other, how they differ in size, and how difficult it is to display both their size and distance accurately.

Watch en Español: Seleccione subtítulos en Español bajo el ícono de configuración. | Watch on YouTube

More solar system size and scale resources:

  • Solar System Sizes and Distances reference guide – download PDF
  • Solar System Trading Cards

Three panel image with a scale solar system drawn on a concrete walkway with chalk, another with buttons and string, and a third with trading cards on a grassy lawn

Decide if you want your model to show scale planet sizes or the scale distances between planets. You can combine a planet-size model of one scale with a distance model of another scale. But if you want size and distance to be the same scale, you’ll need to spread your model across at least half a mile! See Step 6 for instructions on building a combined size-and-distance model.

Measuring tape extends on a concrete walkway from an outline of the sun drawn with chalk

Pick a place to set up your solar system model. This could be across a bedroom wall, along the floor of a hallway or large room, outside in a yard, or down a sidewalk.

Keep your choice in mind as you calculate the size of planets and distances between them in the next steps. You'll need to have enough materials, and your model will have to fit within the place you choose.

Instructions for building a model out of beads and string , sidewalk chalk , or yard markers are included below, but you can use any materials or any space you like!

A person holds a gold string across yellow measuring tape

If you're making a scale-distance model, keep reading for two different methods of calculating scale distances. For a scale-size model, skip to Step 5.

Calculate manually:

  • Download the distance calculation chart ( DOCX ).
  • Multiply the scale factor on the chart by the distance to each planet in astronomical units (AU). Note: When using the suggested 10 centimeters per 1 AU, you’ll need about 10 feet between the Sun and Neptune. If you want your model to span a longer or shorter distance, you can change the scale value accordingly.

Calculate using a spreadsheet:

  • Download the Scale Distance spreadsheet ( XLSX or CSV ).
  • Create a formula in your spreadsheet that will calculate the distance from the Sun to each planet (in centimeters) in your model. The formula should multiply the AU value by the number of centimeters you want each AU to represent, your scale value.
  • A spreadsheet multiplication formula follows this format: =B3*10, where B3 is the cell with a planet’s AU distance and 10 is the scale value. B refers to the cell column and 3 refers to the cell row.

Try different scale values to make your scale model span a shorter or longer distance, depending on where you want to place it.

Once you've done your calculations, go to Steps 8-10 for a few different ideas for creating and displaying your model. You can also come up with your own creative display using your choice of materials. 

See "About the image" below for image description

If you're making a scale-size model, keep reading for two different methods of calculating the scale sizes of the planets. For a scale-distance model, see Step 4 above.

  • Download the size calculation chart ( DOCX ).
  • Choose the size (diameter) you want Earth to be in your model (for example 1 cm).
  • For each planet, multiply the size you chose for Earth by the multiplier value on the chart. The multiplier is a planet’s size compared with Earth. This will give you the scale size of each planet.
  • Download the Scale Size Calculator spreadsheet ( XLSX or CSV ).
  • Choose the size (diameter) you want Earth to be in your model (for example 10 cm).
  • Create a formula in your spreadsheet that will calculate the diameter of (distance across) each planet in centimeters. The formula should multiply the size you chose for Earth by the multiplier value for each planet. The multiplier is a planet’s size compared with Earth.
  • A spreadsheet multiplication formula follows this format: =B3*10, where B3 is the cell with a planet’s multiplier (its size compared to Earth) and 10 is the size you chose for Earth. B refers to the cell column and 3 refers to the cell row.

Try different values for Earth to make your scale planets larger or smaller depending on the materials you have available to represent the size of each planet.

Once you've done your calculations, go to Step 9 to find out how to make a sidewalk chalk scale model. You can also come up with your own creative display using your choice of materials.

A satellite image of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory overlaid with circles of different colors and sizes representing the orbits of planets in a scale size and distance model of the solar system

If you are interested in a more accurate way to represent the solar system and have a lot of space (at least half a mile!) to work with, try making a model of the solar system that displays distance and planet size at the same scale. Otherwise, skip this step.

  • Download the Scale Size and Distance Spreadsheet ( XLSX  or  CSV ) or the Solar System Sizes and Distances reference guide if calculating manually.

Scale Diameter / Scale Distance = Actual Diameter / Actual Distance

Scale Diameter / Scale Distance = Actual Diameter / Actual Distance | + Expand image

Scale Diameter (Actual Distance) / Actual Diameter = Scale Distance

Scale Diameter (Actual Distance) / Actual Diameter = Scale Distance | + Expand image

Spreadsheet screengrab of Step 6 showing the formula =(B5*E5)/D5 being added.

In this example, the spreadsheet function divides the product of Earth’s scale diameter (B5) and actual distance from the Sun (E5) by Earth’s actual diameter (D5) using =(B5*E5)/D5 to find the scale distance from Earth to the sun. | + Expand image

Scale Planet Diameter / Scale Earth Diameter = Actual Planet Diameter / Actual Earth Diameter

Scale Planet Diameter / Scale Earth Diameter = Actual Planet Diameter / Actual Earth Diameter | + Expand image

Spreadsheet screengrab of Step 7 showing the formula =(B5*D6)/D5 being added.

In this example, the product of the scale diameter of Earth (B5) and the actual diameter of Mars (D6) is divided by the actual diameter of Earth (D5) using =(B5*D6)/D5 to find the scale diameter of Mars. | + Expand image

Scale Planet Distance / Scale Earth Diameter = Actual Planet Distance / Actual Earth Diameter

Scale Planet Distance / Scale Earth Diameter = Actual Planet Distance / Actual Earth Diameter | + Expand image

Spreadsheet screengrab of Step 8 showing the formula =(B5*E6)/D5 being added

In this example, the spreadsheet function calculates the product of the scale diameter of Earth (B5) and the actual distance to Mars (E6) divided by the actual diameter of Earth (D5) using =(B5*E6)/D5. | + Expand image

  • Repeat the previous steps for the remaining planets.
  • Use a ruler, compass, string, protractor, or another tool to draw circles of appropriate sizes for each planet. You can color the circles to resemble the planets’ appearances.
  • Using online mapping software, such as Google or Bing maps, right-click on the location that represents the Sun (e.g., your home) and click “measure distance” to identify where the scale planets should go. Depending on the calculated size of the scale model, you may want to check with neighbors and friends to see if they can host the more distant planets in your scale model.

Now it's time to create your model! There are lots of ways you can create and display your scale solar system. With your measurements calculated, choose one of the options below, or come up with your own.

A person holds with buttons of different sizes and colors tied to it across yellow measuring tape

Tie colored beads onto a string to make a scale model of the distances between planets in the solar system. You can wear your model or even display it on a wall.

  • String (enough to span the distance to Neptune, plus an extra 30 cm)
  • Beads, washers, or some other object to mark the distance to each planet on the string
  • Calculated distances from Step 4
  • Measure and cut a piece of string about 30 cm longer than the distance you calculated from the Sun to Neptune.
  • Tie a bead representing the Sun to one end of the string using a double knot. If you don’t have beads, you can tie metal washers to the string, attach planet cutouts or trading cards, or simply use tape to mark the location of the Sun.
  • Using the distances (in centimeters) that you calculated, measure the distance from the Sun on the string to each planet and tie a colored bead in place using a double knot. If you can, choose beads that are the colors of the planets and the Sun.
  • Once you have attached all your beads or marked your planets on the string in some way, straighten out the string to see your scale solar system!

The Sun and planets drawn in chalk extend up a concrete walkway

Use chalk to make a walkable scale model of the distances between planets and/or the sizes of planets in the solar system. Invite your family and friends to take a walk through your scale model.

  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Calculated distances from Step 4 or distances and sizes from Step 6
  • Use sidewalk chalk to draw the Sun on the ground.
  • Measure the distance you calculated to each planet and draw them at their scale distances.
  • If you calculated the planet sizes compared with each other, measure those sizes as you draw them, giving your planets the correct diameter.
  • You can draw your planets all along a single straight line from the Sun, but if you have enough space, consider drawing them at their correct distance in different spots in orbit around the Sun.

A man kneels down in a grassy field holding a card with a picture of Mars on it.

Use distance markers like cones or popsicle sticks in your yard or an open area to create a scale model of the distances between planets in the solar system.

  • Popsicle sticks, cones, or other objects to mark distances
  • Use distance markers like cones, ground stakes, or popsicle sticks to mark the locations of the planets at the distances you calculated.
  • Attach drawings or cutouts of the planets to their markers.

Introduction

solar system assignment

What is the solar system and how can you comprehend its immense size?

In this lesson, you'll learn about the planets, moons, and other objects in our solar system. Many of the images and visualizations you'll see have been gathered through several decades of NASA missions to our nearby and distant neighbors.

Interactive Lesson Sign In

Sign in to your PBS LearningMedia account to save your progress and submit your work, or continue as a guest.

Beakers and Ink

5 Engaging Formation of the Solar System Activities

Five engaging activities for teaching formation of the solar system to middle school students.

If you teach about the formation of the solar system, you probably know that finding age-appropriate activities can be a huge challenge! Teaching the solar system’s formation (or nebular theory) can seem really intimidating to sixth-grade teachers! That’s why I’ve put together these five activities for teaching about solar system formation .

This post contains affiliate links.

Activities that Teach Solar System Formation

Over the years, I’ve found some fun and engaging activities to help students learn about (and understand) the steps in the formation of the solar system.

1. Card Sorting Games

A card sort is a great activity to hook and engage students in the formation of the solar system and assess prior knowledge . I like to use simple pictures for my students to observe and sort before they learn anything about the solar system’s formation.

After they have placed their cards in order, I have students write down their predicted order of the solar system’s formation so they can refer to it and make changes as the lesson continues. You can find an easy to use card sort included in the formation of the solar system lesson .

Five engaging activities for middle schoolers on the formation of the solar system.

2. Formation of of the Solar System Presentation and Notes

I love to use visuals as I teach, so I like to use a quick presentation to talk about the important steps and big ideas in the formation of the solar system. This is a good opportunity to discuss what actually happens as students record the information with notes. You can find my presentation in my Formation of the Solar System Complete Lesson & Activity (shown below).

These notes are a helpful tool that your students can refer to with the following activities.

Downloadable middle school lesson and activity on the formation of the solar system.

3. Solar System Videos

Here is an easy to understand formation of the solar system video that I use with my sixth graders. It’s from NASA Space Place and their website includes a free downloadable poster of the animation.

Students also often have a hard time grasping the concept that the shape of an object spinning really fast can flatten. Spinning a water balloon on an electric drill really captures their attention and helps kids to understand this difficult concept!

Wondering how to make this demo? I created a detailed tutorial explaining the setup in my Instagram story highlights under “Lab Fun.”

4. Solar System Formation Activity (Cut and Paste)

Card sorts can be fun and engaging activities to identify and explain the steps of solar system formation. This can be easily differentiated for different abilities by having students only sort the pictures, or limit the choices to pictures and titles.

Sorts can take many forms, including paper and digital.

solar system assignment

Sorts can take many forms including paper and digital.

After students complete their solar system sort, they write a paragraph to explain how the solar system formed in their own words.

solar system assignment

5. Formation of the Solar System Mazes

My students are hooked on these interactive mazes ! I love them for extra practice because they are NO prep and quick to assess (just follow the pattern to check the maze!).

solar system assignment

Two formation of the solar system mazes are included in this activity (print and digital).

  • extra practice
  • exit tickets
  • quick assessments
  • review and remediation

Learn more about the maze activity here!

Printable Lesson & Activities on Solar System Formation

Save hours of planning time with these no-prep formation of the solar system activities.

Downloadable lesson and activity for teaching solar system formation

Print and go with this complete Formation of the Solar System Resource ! It includes:

  • Card sort engagement / Pre-assessment activity
  • PowerPoint describing the 10 stages of solar system formation
  • Formation of the solar system activity (can be used as worksheets, comic strip, booklet foldable, etc.) and answer key
  • Interactive Google Slide activity that is differentiated and perfect for distance learning

What Buyers are Saying!

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ My students enjoyed it. Great idea for visual learners. Students  used the pictures and the captions to write their paragraph about the formation of the solar system. Thank you! -Florina

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I used this with my 8th grade class. It was helpful that there was a digital version for students who were placed in quarantine. I loved the simplicity of the formation of the solar system, and it has options on how to make a graphic organizer out of it! -Erica

solar system formation mazes for middle school

Students won’t even realize they are learning with these ready to use solar system formation maze activities.

This activity includes print & digital options, as well as two formats for differentiated instruction.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Students love to see if they can complete the maze, all the while not realizing that they are reviewing as they go along. Great option as opposed to the traditional worksheet. Love that there is both print and digital options. -Talissa

Solar system formation lesson and mazes for middle school

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Props and Classroom Decor

If you are looking to add themed items to your classroom while teaching this topic, consider some of these to help engage students and stimulate discussion!

  • James Webb telescope Tarantula Nebula Canvas Printed Poster
  • 4M Solar System Planetarium

Other Posts You May Enjoy

  • 8 Earth’s Atmosphere Activities for Middle School  
  • 5 Virtual Moon Phase Activities Your Students Will Love
  • 5 Simple Ideas for a Running a Successful Science Lab

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solar system assignment

Image that reads Space Place and links to spaceplace.nasa.gov.

Solar System

The perseverance rover lands on mars on february 18, 2021 experience a simulation of the landing below:.

The dwarf planet Pluto in the darkness of space.

Hello, Pluto!

A foil comet with streamers hanging off it on the top of wooden stick.

Answer your questions:

Link up and Listen!

This is the tooltip tooltip-description for the article you hovered over.

Snap it! An Eclipse Photo Adventure

Help the Traveler snap photos of an eclipse!

All About Pluto

Pluto is now categorized as a dwarf planet.

What Is an Orbit?

An orbit is a regular, repeating path that one object in space takes around another one.

Play Bingo While Watching the Psyche Spacecraft Launch!

During the launch broadcast, you can mark off the words that you hear!

Make a Colorful Crayon Europa with Textures!

Create your own colorful crayon Europa with textures!

What Is a Comet?

Learn all about comets!

Relay: A Laser-Based Space Communications Game

Learn about laser-based space communications in this game!

Color Your Universe: Find the Hidden Objects

Can you find all the NASA and space-themed hidden objects?

Why Do We Care About Water on Mars?

Where there are signs of water, there might also be signs of life!

What Is an Impact Crater?

Learn about impact craters!

How Long is a Year on Other Planets?

You probably know that a year is 365 days here on Earth. But did you know that on Mercury you’d have a birthday every 88 days? Read this article to find out how long it takes all the planets in our solar system to make a trip around the Sun.

Explore Mars: A Mars Rover Game

Drive around the Red Planet and gather information in this fun coding game!

All About the Moon

The biggest planet in our solar system

What Is the Weather Like on Other Planets?

Each of the planets in our solar system experiences its own unique weather.

Is There Ice on Other Planets?

Yes, there is ice beyond Earth! In fact, ice can be found on several planets and moons in our solar system.

How Do We Weigh Planets?

We can use a planet’s gravitational pull like a scale!

What Is a Solar Eclipse?

Learn more about what happens when the moon passes between Earth and the sun!

How Is the Sun Completely Blocked in an Eclipse?

It all has to do with the distance between Earth and the sun and Earth and the moon.

Asteroid or Meteor: What's the Difference?

Learn more about asteroids, meteors, meteoroids, meteorites, and comets!

What Is an Asteroid?

And what can we learn from these space rocks in our solar system?

Make a Planet Mask!

Make a mask and pretend to be your favorite planet in our solar system!

The Mars Rovers: Perseverance

This future mission will try to find out if life ever existed on the Red Planet!

The Mars Rovers: Curiosity

Mars had water long ago. But did it also have other conditions needed for life?

The Mars Rovers: Spirit and Opportunity

What did these twin rovers teach us about the history of water on Mars?

The Mars Rovers: Sojourner

Learn more about the first rover to land on Mars!

The Mars Rovers

How do rovers help us learn more about the Red Planet?

Printable Space Valentines

Share these with your friends and family!

What Is the Kuiper Belt?

The icy bits past Neptune’s orbit

Where Does the Solar System End?

The Oort Cloud!

Why Are Planets Round?

And how round are they?

NASA Pumpkin Stencils

Paint pumpkins with space and Earth science designs

All About Neptune

The coldest planet in our solar system

All About Uranus

The planet that spins on its side

All About Saturn

The planet with beautiful rings

All About Jupiter

All About Mars

The red planet

All About Earth

The planet with living things

All About Venus

The hottest planet in our solar system

All About the Planets

Learn more about the planets in our solar system

All About Mercury

The smallest planet in our solar system

Make a Comet on a Stick!

A comet close to home

How Long Is One Day on Other Planets?

Learn to make a graph with the answer!

How Many Moons Does Each Planet Have?

We have one, but some planets have dozens.

Europa: Jupiter's Ocean World

Learn more about this icy moon of Jupiter!

Where Does Interstellar Space Begin?

Interstellar space begins where the sun’s magnetic field stops affecting its surroundings.

Jumping the Tallest Cliff in the Solar System

How far would we have to travel to get there?

What's It Like Inside Jupiter?

Jupiter's core is very hot and is under tons of pressure!

Why Does the Moon Have Craters?

It's not because the Moon gets hit by meteors more often...

A Planet Without a Sun?

Astronomers may have found a planet without a sun!

What Is a Planet?

The answer isn't so simple...

How Did the Solar System Form?

The story starts about 4.6 billion years ago, with a cloud of stellar dust.

Space Volcanoes!

Explore the many volcanoes in our solar system using the Space Volcano Explorer.

Write your own zany adventure story!

Thirsty? Have a comet!

Could they have brought the water to our planet?

Make Oreo Moon Phases!

For the New Moon, you must eat all the creme filling!

Make No-Bake Moon Cookies!

These are yummy and need no baking!

Go With the Flow: An Ocean Currents Game

In this ocean currents game, use heat and salt to float your sub to the treasure!

What Is a Meteor Shower?

What causes them?

Gallery of NASA Solar System Images

Glorious planets and moons to view or print.

Voyager 1 and 2: The Interstellar Mission

These spacecraft traveled to the outer planets!

High Tide on IO!

What do you get when you cross an earthquake with a tidal wave?

Play Solar System Switch-a-Roo!

Put clues together to find the planets and moons.

What Is a Barycenter?

And how does it help us find new planets?

Make asteroids you can eat!

Make yummy potatoes look like asteroids.

Why does Saturn have rings?

And what are they made of?

Make a CD Saturn

Turn an old CD into Saturn's rings.

DSN Uplink-Downlink: A DSN Game

Help the big antennas gather data from the spacecraft.

Mission to Jupiter: Juno

Help Juno reveal Jupiter's true nature.

Build a model spacecraft to explore the solar system!

Paper models of your favorite solar system explorers. This link takes you away from NASA Space Place.

Illustration of a game controller that links to the Space Place Games menu.

Download SpacePlace iPhone Games!

Join the SpacePlace Community!

whats-new-image

IMAGES

  1. The Cool Science Dad: Solar System Project

    solar system assignment

  2. Our Solar System

    solar system assignment

  3. Solar System Assignment by Teaching with St Martin

    solar system assignment

  4. The Solar System Poster on Behance

    solar system assignment

  5. This assignment is great for pairing with our Space or Solar System

    solar system assignment

  6. Solar System Assignment

    solar system assignment

VIDEO

  1. Lecture 01, 6.1.1 Earth & The Solar System O Level's Physics 5054/IGCSE Physics 0625

  2. Solar system # marketing # assignment

  3. Roll-a-Ball/Solar System assignment

  4. ANN Based MPPT Applied To Solar Powered Water Pumping System Using #bldcmotor #electrical #phd

  5. MY SOLAR SYSTEM ASSIGNMENT

  6. "Test Your Space Knowledge with this Solar System Quiz!"

COMMENTS

  1. Solar System Lessons, Worksheets and Activities

    The solar system proves an abundance of learning opportunities. You can teach about astronomy, physics, or biology. It provides a huge opportunity for hands-on learning activities and science experiments. Watch their young eyes fill with wonder as they contemplate the moon and how the earth was created. Solar System Teaching Resources.

  2. Solar system

    Any natural solar system object other than the Sun, a planet, a dwarf planet, or a moon is called a small body; these include asteroids, meteoroids, and comets.Most of the more than one million asteroids, or minor planets, orbit between Mars and Jupiter in a nearly flat ring called the asteroid belt. The myriad fragments of asteroids and other small pieces of solid matter (smaller than a few ...

  3. 14 Science Projects and Lessons About the Solar System

    14 Science Projects and Lessons About the Solar System. By Amy Cowen on June 16, 2023 8:00 AM. Use these free STEM projects, lessons, and activities to help students get hands-on exploring and learning about solar system science. The Earth, the Moon, the Sun, and space are concepts students identify early on.

  4. Planets and Solar System

    Objects pictured include: Earth, Jupiter, Sun, Moon, Mars, Neptune, space shuttle, comet, and satellite. Use this worksheet to practice identifying the planets based on their location from the sun and their visible characteristics. Cut out the definitions and glue them next to the corresponding solar system object.

  5. The Science of the Solar System Course by Caltech

    Introduction to Science of the Solar System • 9 minutes • Preview module. Lecture 1.01: Early views of Mars • 11 minutes. Lecture 1.02: Mars has canals! • 13 minutes. Lecture 1.03: Taking the temperature of Mars • 19 minutes. Lecture 1.04: Mars DOES have water (in the atmosphere)! • 10 minutes.

  6. Solar System, Free PDF Download

    Solar System explores the world around Earth, particularly the planets and the asteroid belt. Students will discover interesting facts about each planet, including their orbit and rotation times and the elements from which they are made. ... SOLAR SYSTEM CROSSWORD PUZZLE HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT. The homework assignment requires students to solve a ...

  7. The solar system—facts and information

    The solar system is enveloped by a huge bubble called the heliosphere. Made of charged particles generated by the sun, the heliosphere shields planets and other objects from high-speed ...

  8. Make a Model of the Solar System

    Table 4. Planets of the solar system, each listed with its radius expressed in kilometers. You can give the students the following formulas and example: If you want to create a model where Mercury is represented by a sphere of 1 m radius, you need to scale 2,440 km down to 1 meter. The scale factor is 1 m/2,440 km.

  9. Solar System Exploration

    Solar System Overview. The solar system has one star, eight planets, five dwarf planets, at least 290 moons, more than 1.3 million asteroids, and about 3,900 comets. It is located in an outer spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy called the Orion Arm, or Orion Spur. Our solar system orbits the center of the galaxy at about 515,000 mph (828,000 kph).

  10. Modeling the Structure of the Solar System

    A solar system is made up of a star and all of the objects that orbit it—planets, moons, asteroids, comets and meteoroids. Most stars host their own planets, so there are likely tens of billions of other solar systems in the Milky Way galaxy alone. Solar systems can also have more than one star.

  11. Planets

    There are five officially recognized dwarf planets in our solar system: Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris. The inner, rocky planets are Mercury , Venus , Earth, and Mars. These worlds also are known as terrestrial planets because they have solid surfaces. Mercury, Earth, and Mars are currently being explored by spacecraft.

  12. Solar System

    Hello, Pluto! In July of 2015, a spacecraft named New Horizons arrived at Pluto after a long journey. It took amazing pictures of this dwarf planet and will continue to study other objects in the Kuiper Belt from 2018 to 2022. Find out more about Pluto. Make a comet on a stick!

  13. PDF Voyage: A Journey through our Solar System Grades 5-8 Lesson 1: Our

    Lesson 1: Our Solar System Lesson at a Glance Lesson Overview In this lesson, students tour the Solar System. They examine and define its various components—the Sun, planets, moons, comets, asteroids, dwarf planets, and Kuiper Belt Objects. They recognize that the Solar System is the family of the Sun, an average star, and other stars have

  14. THE SOLAR SYSTEM

    our solar system, including dwarf planets, moons, asteroids, and comets. Certain reading resources are provided at three reading levels within the unit to support differentiated instruction. Other resources are provided as a set, with different titles offered at each reading level. Dots on student resources

  15. Introduction to the Solar System

    The solar system consists of the Sun, nine planets, some 60 or so moons, and assorted minor materials (asteroids, meteoroids, comets, dust, and gas). All of these objects are tiny in comparison to the distances that separate them. Imagine the solar system scaled down such that distances to the planets could be spaced along a 10‐kilometer ...

  16. Student Project: Make a Scale Solar System

    Steps: Download the Scale Size and Distance Spreadsheet ( XLSX or CSV) or the Solar System Sizes and Distances reference guide if calculating manually. Decide on the diameter of Earth in your scale model. Keep in mind that a 1-cm Earth means the scale distance from the Sun to Neptune is about two miles.

  17. The Solar System Assignment Flashcards

    what is the diameter of saturn. 116,460 km. what is the diameter of uranus. 50,724 km. what is the diameter of Neptune. 49,244 km. What is the diameter of venus. 12,104km. Physics Learn with flashcards, games, and more — for free.

  18. The Structure and Scale of the Solar System

    Introduction. What is the solar system and how can you comprehend its immense size? In this lesson, you'll learn about the planets, moons, and other objects in our solar system. Many of the images and visualizations you'll see have been gathered through several decades of NASA missions to our nearby and distant neighbors.

  19. PDF Lesson 1: Introducing our solar system

    Broad learning outcomes. Students will be able to describe and explain one or more celestial bodies (other than planets) within our solar system. Students will learn the importance of summarising and paraphrasing and how to reference sources of information. Students will assess the reliability and validity of various resources (print and online).

  20. 5 Engaging Formation of the Solar System Activities

    Activities that Teach Solar System Formation. Over the years, I've found some fun and engaging activities to help students learn about (and understand) the steps in the formation of the solar system. 1. Card Sorting Games. A card sort is a great activity to hook and engage students in the formation of the solar system and assess prior knowledge.

  21. The Solar System Assignment Flashcards

    Check all that apply., Choose the correct answer to complete the paragraph about the acceptance of the heliocentric model. In the second century BCE, the Greek astronomer Ptolemy tried to explain the backward movement of the planets by using a solar system model that included _____. For centuries, this was the accepted model.

  22. Solar System Assignment

    The Solar System is the gravitationally bound system comprising the Sun and the objects that orbit it, either directly or indirectly. Of those objects that orbit the Sun directly, the largest eight are the planets, with the remainder being significantly smaller objects, such as dwarf planets and small Solar System bodies.

  23. Solar System

    Hello, Pluto! In July of 2015, a spacecraft named New Horizons arrived at Pluto after a long journey. It took amazing pictures of this dwarf planet and will continue to study other objects in the Kuiper Belt from 2018 to 2022. Find out more about Pluto. Make a comet on a stick!