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Sizing Up the Universe

Source Institutions

    Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies

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Sizing Up the Universe

In this online interactive challenge, learners choose items to represent the Earth or solar system, then determine other items to represent the Moon, or Milky Way based on their relative size. The question mark button in the bottom right corner provides learners with useful background information and definitions like "What is a planet?" Learners can also see relative distances by using an online map and typing in their own addresses. Use this activity to introduce learners to elements of the universe (planets, moons) as well as size and scale. The activity also features several informative videos.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • computer (Flash enabled) with Internet access


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Stars and Galaxies
      • Size and Scale
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
    • Solar System
      • The Sun
      • The Moon
      • The Planets
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Size and Scale
      • Circles


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • hear
  • use keyboard
  • use mouse

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, Smithsonian Institution, ©2010


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