Paper Plate Education
Activity: Solar System Mobile
The following text was written by Jeanne Bishop as part of a series of in-planetarium lesson plans. Used with permission.
PLANET MOBILE. Slides
of the nine planets, slide showing size comparison, three white paper plates,
sheet with planet drawings, scissors, tape, red and blue small "sticky
dots," markers, pipe cleaners, nail, string, coat hanger, stapler: Ask if anyone knows a word that means a model in which one
thing is the right size compared with another.
(Answer is "scale.") Explain
that we are now going to make a scale model of the planets.
In the scale, one paper plate is the size of Jupiter.
Saturn without its rings is a paper plate with one-half of its outer rim
trimmed off. Venus is the size of a
penny, and Earth is the size of a nickel. See
the handout sheet for the sizes of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Use the sticky dots for Mercury, and Mars.
Color each planet like you saw it is.
Review these briefly.) Smooth
the folds from one paper plate. Cut
out the planet shapes on the handout and attach each to that paper plate with a
loop of tape on the back. Cut
around each shape on the plate. Use
more tape to fasten the paper to the plate.
Put the name of the planet on the back of each plate or plate part.
Staple flattened pipe-cleaner rings to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and
Neptune. (Twist cleaners together
at ends to make longer pieces.) Punch
a hole with a nail near one edge of each planet.
Attach a piece of string to each planet. Tie each planet to the hanger.
Notice how wide the sun would be...
eleven plates! Discuss the
scale of distances that goes with this scale of planet sizes in paper
plates---From the earth to the sun is a distance of 1,040 plates. From Pluto to the sun is a distance of 41,400 plates.
Clean up. (We took our
scissors and moved back to the planetarium.)
Contributed by Jeanne Bishop.
GLPA Proceedings, 1993, pp. 36-37.
For images of plates that are suitable for this mobile, see the Dynamic Planets photo gallery.
Copyright ©2012 Chuck Bueter. All rights reserved.