As an introduction to our unit on space, the 8th grade did an activity to give them an idea of just how big our Solar System is. We learned that scientists measure distances in space using astronomical units (AU), with 1 AU being the average distance from Earth to the Sun. In this activity, the students measured out a length of string, and positioned themselves along the string at the approximate location of each planet, with a scale of 1AU = 10cm. They were surprised at how close together the inner planets seemed, and that the outer planets could be so far away!
Alex is representing the Sun. Jessica, as Mercury, is at 3.9cm from the Sun, Angelina is 7.2cm away as Venus, and Nevaeh is an even 10cm away as Earth. At 15.2 cm from the Sun, Megan is representing Mars. Julius is a full 52cm away as the planet Jupiter, Beth is 95.4cm away as Saturn, and Genevieve is representing Uranus, which is 191.8cm away. At 300cm (3 whole meters!) Ian is Neptune, and Ryan is holding the place of dwarf planet Pluto at nearly 4 meters from the Sun!