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Accessible Solar System on a String

This activity was selected from the Mars Activities Book created by the ASU Mars Education Program. Adaptations were made by Dr. Cassandra Runyon at the Southeast Regional Clearinghouse (SERCH).

Author Profile

This activity has benefited from input from a review and suggestion process as a part of an activity development workshop.

This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process as a part of an activity development workshop. Workshop participants were provided with a set of criteria against which they evaluated each others' activities. For information about the criteria used for this review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/teacherprep/workshops/workshop07/activityreview.html.

This page first made public: May 2, 2007


In this earth and space science activity, students with and without disabilities use their senses to investigate the scale of the solar system. With the sun the size of a bell - they can walk off the distance to Neptune. Students describe their observations (oral and written).

Learning Goals

Upon completion of this interactive activity students should be able to: identify the planets in our solar system, Sun, planets, and small objects in the Solar System.

Context for Use

This activity may be used in both formal and informal education settings for introductory-level classes and or demonstrations. Kids of all ages appreciate this activity. Small groups or teams may facilitate the project. The activity may take place over a 2 hour period - as one unit or broken up, with discussion about the solar system and planets woven in.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Teachers / Facilitators may want to have one of the 'Solar System on a String' models prepared as a demo for the class to refer to while they are creating their own solar systems. NOTE: the bead (planet) colors really do not matter - let the students be creative.

Teaching Materials

Solar System Bead Distance Activity Adapted for Students with Disabilities (Acrobat (PDF) 403kB Apr16 07)


Have each student 'explore' the solar system by closing their eyes and following the string from the sun to Neptune. Have them name each planet along their tour. Upon completion of their tour, let each student describe of their experience.

References and Resources

These two sites are ADA and 508 compliant, thus students with and without disabilities can access the data and explore them:
Exploring the Solar System
Solar System Simulator

Controlled Vocabulary Terms

Subject: Physics:Astronomy, Geoscience:Lunar and Planetary Science
Resource Type: Activities:Field Activity, Classroom Activity, Lab Activity
Special Interest: Field-Based Teaching and Learning
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level
Ready for Use: Ready to Use
Earth System Topics: Solar System and Astronomy
Theme: Teach the Earth:Enhancing your Teaching:Teaching in the Field, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Planetary Science, Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience

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