Heliocentric Model of the Solar System
Earth and Space

Building a model of the solar system with paper discs

Classroom Activity for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

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

  • A clean laboratory or corridor wall, 6 metre long
  • 6 metre of string
  • A copy of these support sheets

Support sheet

What Happens During this Activity

Ask the pupils to make up circular discs drawn to scale to represent each planet, one group per planet.

The planets can then either be pinned or hung from the correct position on the string.

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.

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