Building the solar system

From: "Mike Reynolds" <>
Subject: Building the solar system
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 97 11:01:01 -0500

     I just had one of those great teaching moments.  My students have been 
     building a scale model of the solar system reduced to a scale of one 
     billionth actual size.  I had them pick either a planet or the sun and 
     make a scale model, obtain an actual photo of the planet, draw an 
     artist conception of what a view from the surface or cloud tops might 
     look like and type up a data sheet on their planet.  They have been so 
     busy with this assignment that none of them figured out how far apart 
     the planets are at this scale.  On Mother's visiting day we went out 
     in the hallway and put the sun up on one wall.  The sun is about two 
     meters in diameter.  We started measuring the 58 meters to locate 
     Mercury (A pea) and it began to sink in how big the solar system 
     really is.  When they began calculating that Pluto is about four miles 
     away they were stunned.  It was so much fun seeing them all with the 
     amazed looks on their faces.  It was a perfect impression for mom's