Model the Sun and Earth

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In this activity, learners make scale models of the Sun and Earth out of paper mache. Using the models, learners will go outside to explore the real distance between the Sun and Earth using the model's scale. Additional information is provided if learners want to complete their scale model of the solar system. Step-by-step instructions are included with photos along with safety recommendations. Activity guide includes a "What's going on?" explanation and connections to relevant science concepts like the sizes of the Sun and Earth, the speed of light, and an Astronomical Unit (AU).

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • loaf pan-sized glass or clear plastic container
  • blue food coloring
  • red food coloring
  • access to tap water
  • two drinking cups of equal size
  • handful of ice cubes
  • two spoons
  • strainer
  • one yellow balloon
  • ruler
  • thread of different colors (at least blue and green)
  • newspaper
  • two sheets of yellow construction paper
  • two sheets of orange construction paper
  • flour
  • water
  • pin or thumbtack
  • liquid measuring cup
  • dry measuring cup (1/2 cup)
  • small pot
  • spoon


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
    • Earth Structure
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
    • Solar System
      • The Sun
      • The Planets
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts


Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DIY Science Apps


  • , The Regents of the University of California, 2014

Funding Source:

  • NASA, NNX10AE05G