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Paper Plate Education
"Serving the Universe on a Paper Plate"

Activity: Solar System Mobile

Dynamic neptune.jpg (376743 bytes)

The following text was written by Jeanne Bishop as part of a series of in-planetarium lesson plans.  Used with permission.

4.  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.


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