Modeling the Solar System
This series of lessons for science and mathematics classes (grades 3-12) looks at the planets in our solar system in a variety of different ways, beginning with astronomical modeling of orbits and sizes, then geologic modeling of planetary interiors, and concluding with biological evaluation of what makes planets livable by various creatures. While the first two are familiar classroom activities, the latter two are new approaches to our solar system that provide new insights. Most of the lessons are presented at two grade levels, basically 3-8 and 8-12. This is based mainly on student mathematics training. Most lessons need multiplication and division, but some use algebra and geometry as real world applications for high school math teachers.
1) Modeling Orbits in the Solar System. This lesson models the orbital distances between the planets and shows that the solar system is mostly empty space.
2) Modeling Sizes of Planets. This lesson compares the relative sizes of the planets to those of familiar fruits and vegetables. It also uses size to calculate density and planet composition.
3) Looking Inside Planets. This lesson involves modeling the interior structures of the planets and shows that the solid cores of the gas giants are similar in size to the Earth or Venus.
4) Search for A Habitable Planet. This lesson looks at the characteristics of planets that make them livable, their temperature, and compositions of atmosphere and surface instead of size