Participating in the solar-system model will put your school, literally, on the
map. It can inspire students to think about grand scales in ways classroom
teaching can’t, by bringing enormous size and distance into domains they can
grasp, intuit, and fathom. How many other schools’ students are going to have
an intimate feeling of how slow light really is, when it’s compared to the
speed of jogging from Lake Eola to your school?
In addition to providing deep new perspective, participating in such a model
directly hits several Florida Science Standards items.
Recognize that the Sun appears large and bright because it is the closest star to Earth.
Recognize that Earth revolves around the Sun in a year and rotates on its axis in a 24-hour day.
Distinguish among the following objects of the Solar System—Sun, planets, moons, asteroids, comets—and identify Earth’s position in it.
Recognize that there are enormous distances between objects in space and apply our knowledge of light and space travel to understand this distance.
Distinguish the hierarchical relationships between planets and other astronomical bodies relative to solar system, galaxy, and universe, including distance, size, and composition.
Explore the Law of Universal Gravitation by explaining the role that gravity plays in the formation of planets, stars, and solar systems and in determining their motions.
Compare and contrast the properties of objects in the Solar System including the Sun, planets, and moons to those of Earth, such as gravitational force, distance from the Sun, speed, movement, temperature, and atmospheric conditions.
Compare various historical models of the Solar System, including geocentric and heliocentric.
A project like this could inspire students for a long time, but keep in mind
that more than students will want to see it. If your school is in the orbital
path of a planet, you’re lucky, but please select a location that is prominent
and open to the public. We hope that regular citizens will try to visit every
planet as kinds of scavenger hunts, so please think about where you want yours.
Helping with the planet model could be a class project, during school hours,
but if it isn’t, we need you to help get permission from parents for students
to help after hours.
Also, you should encourage a teacher or teachers you think fit this project to
work on it in class. Touch base with teachers and see what they think.
After you have found teachers to lead the effort, you should
claim the planet and location
you wish to “own”. See the map of proposed
sites, and see the orbital paths of the planets.