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Build a Solar System

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    The Exploratorium

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Build a Solar System

In this activity, learners make a scale model of the Solar System and learn the real definition of "space." Learners use the online calculator to create an appropriate scale to use as a basis for their model. Once learners have their scaled measurements (diameters and distances), then they can walk and "pace out" the solar system by marking sticks or flags in the ground. Learners can also build a solar system on a roll of toilet paper or receipt paper.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Computer with JavaScript capable browser
  • Long tape measure (optional)
  • posts with pieces of paper attached or flags (optional)
  • Toilet paper roll (optional)
  • Roll of teletype paper tape/receipt paper (optional)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Stars and Galaxies
      • Size and Scale
    • Solar System
      • The Sun
      • The Moon
      • The Planets
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Size and Scale
      • Circles
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • use keyboard
  • use mouse
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Hipschman, Ron


  • All Rights Reserved, Ron Hipschman, Exploratorium, ©1997


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