21. Edible Solar System
To learn the order of the planets in the solar system.
8 inch paper plates (inexpensive ones)
Different sized hard candies to represent the planets
(butterscotch for the sun; red hots, Skittles, mints, etc.)
Colored, large crystal, sugar (for the asteroid belt)
When the ancients studied the night sky, they noticed that five "stars"
moved with respect to the others. They called them "planets," from the
Greek word for "wanderer," and kept careful records of their motions.
These records eventually enabled astronomers to figure out why they moved
as they did: the planets, including our Earth, orbit around the Sun in
nearly circular orbits. Over the years, telescopes have enabled us to
discover three other planets, bringing the total number to nine (including
Using different sized candies, this activity will allow students to model
the order of the planets in the solar system.
Following the directions listed on the student sheet, the orbital paths
of each planet must first be drawn on the paper plate. A compass works
well. Older students can accomplish this task on their own. Younger students
may need to have them drawn in. (This activity models only the order of
the planets from the sun and not size or distance.)
Each student receives a paper plate, different sized candies, and a small
amount of cement frosting. "Features" on each planet may be added to larger
planets using frosting and smaller sized candies.
Project ASTRO Resource Notebook, Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
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