What if you could fit the entire solar system on your street? That’s exactly what we tried to do while stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The length of our street is exactly 0.58 miles, which happens to be about 1000 yards. The perfect length for the Earth is a Peppercorn model of the solar system!
In this model the sun is about the size of a soccer ball (8 inches) and the Earth is a peppercorn (about 0.08 inches) and 26 yards away. This means Pluto (or the Kuiper belt) is 1017 yards or 0.58 miles away. (Check out this web site for the model to get all the details in calculating the distances and sizes to scale.)
So we got busy and made signs for each planet to place along our street at the right distances. (We made sure to get permission from the homeowners first.) Now when our neighbors take a walk they can learn more about the planets and take a journey from the Sun all the way out to Pluto!
Do you want to make a Solar System on your street? Just print out the signs, color the planets (or draw them on the sidewalk with chalk!) and post them at the right distances. Luckily 1 yard is about the same as a pace for a grown up so you can just count your steps instead of using a measuring tape to place the signs.
And if you can’t make a model – check out this awesome video of a model of just a slightly larger scale with complete orbits made in the desert!
More Space Models
If you like making models then here are some of my favorites – and they will fit inside too.
Playdough Model – With 3 pounds of playdough you can make models of the Earth and Moon, or the whole solar system!
Solar System on a String – Visualize how far each planet is from the on with beads on a string.
Kinesthetic Radial Model of the Solar System – Stand on the Earth and see where the other planets are around the Sun (hint, they don’t all line up!)
Create a Scale Model with Spreadsheets – Older kids can create their own scale models