Heliocentric Model of the Solar System
Earth and Space

Building a model of the solar system with fruit

Classroom Activity for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

Using fruit to make a memorable model.

Here you construct a model of the solar system to show the relative size of the planets, the distance of each planet from the Sun and the spacing between the planets.

You can remind pupils that scientists frequently build models if the objects they are studying are either unimaginably large or too small to see.

What to Prepare

  • an out-of-doors space at least 11 m long
  • a 15 metre tape measure

The following pieces of fruit:

  • 2 cherries or 2 small Brussels sprouts
  • (1 slightly larger than the other – Mars is the larger one)
  • 2 plums or 2 apricots
  • 1 water melon or pumpkin
  • 1 coconut or swede
  • 1 apple
  • 1 orange
  • 1 pea
  • A copy of the support sheet (see below)

What Happens During this Activity

Nine pupils should make cards showing which planet they represent with lettering that will be visible from 10 m away when a photograph is taken.

Take the class outside.

Draw out a line and place the nine pupils to show where each planet is on the line. The pupils hold the fruit and the planet name so that everyone can see them.

Teacher Tip: In these modelling activities it is important to be aware that the scale for the size of the planets is not the same scale as that used for the distance between them (although both the relative sizes and relative distances are to scale). If the scales were the same, the object representing Pluto would be about 1.2 kilometre from the Sun.

Resources

Download the support sheet / student worksheet for this activity.

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