Quantitative Skills > Teaching Resources > Activities > Scaling Galileos Solar System - Times

Scaling Galileo's Solar System - Times

University of South Florida
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Oct 18, 2004


In this module, students calculate how long it takes for planets and moons to complete their orbits, and how fast they are going, in a scale model solar system, in which Saturn, Galileo's outermost planet, takes one day to circle around campus. Students recreate spreadsheets shown in the Powerpoint module on their own with formulas that answer various pieces of the overall question. This module is the third in a series of four on the Galilean Solar System.

Learning Goals

Context for Use

This module was designed to be used in an undergraduate mathematical geology class where students are asked to look at geological questions mathematically and may spend more time on the math than on the geology.

Teaching Notes and Tips

These modules were developed as essentially self-paced, take-home lab assignments. Students are supposed to work through the modules, slide by slide, building their own worksheets as they go along, taking note of instructions and prompts, hints, and queries.

Students must have access to computers equipped with a spreadsheet program such as Excel.

Teaching Materials

This module is one of several developed by Dr. Vacher. The module presentation can be found at http://powershow.com/view/3cdbe-OTk5M/Module_23_flash_ppt_presentation

The Powerpoint file is considered to be the student version. There is also an instructor's version that has active spreadsheets in it. There are instructions for requesting this version on the website.


The easiest way to test student work on this module is to ask students to hand in a copy of their worksheets starting with a different set of input data. The module also ends with homework assignment questions.

References and Resources

Polya, 1957

Contact the Author

Please contact the author with questions or suggestions: Feedback Form

Controlled Vocabulary Terms

Subject: Geoscience:Lunar and Planetary Science
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity
Special Interest: Quantitative
Grade Level: College Upper (15-16), College Lower (13-14)
Quantitative Skills: Problem Solving, Units and Unit Conversions
Ready for Use: Ready to Use
Topics: Solar system

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