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Toilet Paper Solar System

Source Institutions

    Astronomical Society of the Pacific

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Toilet Paper Solar System

In this activity, learners build a scale model of the solar system using a roll of toilet paper. There are two separate handout versions included for making either a 200-sheet model (85 feet) or a 100-sheet model (42 feet). The instructions suggest using gel pens on cheap, flat toilet paper to mark the name and location of the sun, the planets, and Ceres (to represent the asteroid belt). The background information includes limits of this model: these are average distances since planetary orbits are elliptical, and the planets will never actually be in a straight line like they are here. There is also a math scaling extension.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Table of distances to give to participants (Two to choose from. The longer [200 sheets] requires 85 ft.,the shorter [100 sheets] requires 42 ft. of space)
  • One roll of toilet paper, 201 sheets or more, per family
  • Felt-tip marker(s) or gel pen, preferably 10 colors; but one pen per family will do
  • Clear tape for repairs


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Stars and Galaxies
      • Size and Scale
    • Solar System
      • The Sun
      • The Planets
      • Asteroids and Comets
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
    • Number and Operations
      • Multiples and Factors

Informal Categories

  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Chippindale, Suzanne; Mallon, Gerald

Source Collection:

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • All Rights Reserved, Project ASTRO, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, ©2001


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