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).
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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).

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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.

Description and Teaching Materials

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.


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