# Modeling Planet Sizes

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1 activity 14 Modeling Planet Sizes BROWARD COUNTY ELEMENTARY SCIENCE BENCHMARK PLAN Grade 4 Quarter 2 Activity 14 SC.E The student knows that the planets differ in size, characteristics, and composition and that they orbit the Sun in our Solar System. SC.E The student understands the arrangement of planets in our Solar System. SC.H The student knows that to work collaboratively, all team members should be free to reach, explain, and justify their own individual conclusions. SC.H The student knows that to compare and contrast observations and results is an essential skill in science. SC.H The student knows that a model of something is different from the real thing, but can be used to learn something about the real thing. ACTIVITY ASSESSMENT OPPORTUNITIES The following suggestions are intended to help identify major concepts covered in the activity that may need extra reinforcement. The goal is to provide opportunities to assess student progress without creating the need for a separate, formal assessment session (or activity) for each of the 40 hands-on activities at this grade level. 1. Remind students that, in this activity, they used a scale to compare the size of planets. But, when you lined them up to see the results, you did not use the correct distance scale. (Tell students that they will do a distance scale in the next two activities.) Ask, What is the problem if you use a model only with the scale of size but not distance when showing the planets? (You may get misinformation, you may think all scales are the same so all the planets are equal distance apart, and so on.) Have students predict what they think a scale of distances would show about how far the planets are from each other and the Sun. (Answers will vary.) 2. Use the Activity Sheet(s) to assess student understanding of the major concepts in the activity. In addition to the above assessment suggestions, the questions in bold and tasks that students perform throughout the activity provide opportunities to identify areas that may require additional review before proceeding further with the activity. broward county hands-on science Quarter 2 171

2 172 activity 14 Modeling Planet Sizes

3 activity 14 Modeling Planet Sizes OBJECTIVES In this activity, students apply what they have learned about circles and scale to make scale models of the planets. The students calculate the radii for scale models of the planets make a scale model of each planet compare the relative sizes of the planets SCHEDULE About 40 minutes MATERIALS For each student 1 Activity Sheet 14, Parts A and B For each team of two 1 cardboard square 1 compass, drawing 1 marker, black* 1 sheet paper, construction, black 1 ruler, metric 1 pair scissors* For the class 1 BB* 1 baseball* 1 basketball* 1 marble* 1 sheet paper, construction, blue 1 roll tape, masking DSR Solar System *provided by the teacher PREPARATION Make a copy of Activity Sheet 14, Parts A and B, for each student. Cut the sheet of blue construction paper into sixteen 5-cm (about 2-in.) squares, one for each team. Each team of two will need a metric ruler, a drawing compass, a cardboard square, one sheet of black construction paper, a 5-cm square of blue construction paper, a pair of scissors, a black marker, and access to the masking tape. BACKGROUND INFORMATION The enormity of the objects that make up our Solar System is difficult to imagine. The diameter of the Sun (the largest object in our Solar System) is 1,392,000 km. The diameter of Pluto is 2,300 km, while that of Jupiter (the largest planet) is 142,984 km. Scientists now consider there to be only eight planets (not nine) in our Solar System. Please review the information provided in Pluto and the New Definition of a Planet on page 136. To create a model of our Solar System on a classroom wall so that students can visualize the relative sizes of the Sun and the planets requires the use of a scale. A scale of 1 cm:5,000 km makes Pluto about 0.5 cm (about 0.2 in.) in diameter and Jupiter about 28.6 cm (about in.) in diameter. Even though students may know that Jupiter is 59 times larger than Pluto, they will be astonished to see on a scale model the contrast between a dot of less than 0.5 cm in diameter to a circle almost 29 cm in diameter. broward county hands-on science Quarter 2 173

4 Activity Sheet 14, Part A Activity Sheet 14, Part B Modeling Planet Sizes Modeling Planet Sizes 1. How can you make models of the planets that allow you to compare their relative sizes? Reduce the actual diameter of the planets according to the same ratio, draw circles using the scaled radii, and compare the size of the circles. Name Actual Diameter (km) Diameter (cm) Sun 1,392,000 Mercury 4, Venus 12, Earth 12, Mars 6, Jupiter 142, Saturn 120, Uranus 51, Neptune 49, Pluto 2, Scale Model 1 cm:5000 km Radius (cm) Use a marker to write the names of the four largest planets on strips of masking tape. Attach the labels to the models. Make tape handles for the five smallest planets, as shown on the board. Write their names on the tape handles. 5. List the planets according to relative size. Start with the largest and finish with the smallest. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Earth, Venus, Mars, Mercury, and Pluto 2. Calculate each scale model radius from the scale model diameters given above. Round to the nearest tenth of a centimeter. Record the radius in the Scale Model Radius column. 3. Use the Scale Model Radius measurements to measure, draw, and cut out circles. The circles representing Mercury, Mars, and Pluto will be too small to measure with the drawing compass. Use the ruler to measure these three planets and draw the circles by hand. Scientists now say that there are only eight planets in our Solar System. That s because Pluto is no longer called a planet. Pluto is now called a dwarf planet. 1 Guiding the Activity Ask students to review the concept of relative size. Show them the basketball, baseball, marble, and BB. Discuss the size of each object relative to the others. 2 Ask, How do you think the Sun and the planets compare with one another in size? Review the concept of scale and why scale drawings are useful. Remind students of how they used scale drawings in the previous activity to visualize the relative sizes of actual objects. Ask, What is one way we can investigate the relative sizes of the planets? Remind students that a planet s shape is similar to that of a ball. Ask, What shape would you draw to represent a ball? What measurement would you need in order to make a scale drawing of this shape? 174 activity 14 Modeling Planet Sizes Accept all reasonable answers. Students may suggest making scale drawings of the planets and placing them side by side to compare their sizes. a circle; the diameter or the radius of the circle

5 3 Guiding the Activity Explain to students that in this activity they will make scale drawings of the planets and then cut them out and line them up so that they can visualize and compare their sizes. Review the names of all of the planets in our Solar System. Ask students to name them in order of their distance from the Sun. Suggest they use the mnemonic devices they learned in Activity 11, if necessary. Choose, or have a student volunteer choose, a planet. Write the planet s name on the board. Refer to the chart in Figure 14-1 and write the planet s actual diameter to the right of its name. Ask, Can you make your model the same size as the actual planet? Explain that they will make scale models of the planets that are much smaller than the actual planets. Remind students that they know that Pluto, for example, is tiny compared to Jupiter. Ask, Could you use a different scale for each model planet to show their relative sizes? Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Scientists now consider there to be only eight planets (not nine) in our Solar System. Please review the information provided in Pluto and the New Definition of a Planet on page 136. No. The planet is much too big! Although technically a scale model reflects all three dimensions of the actual object, we will refer to the cut-out scale drawings as scale models in this activity. No. To show their relative sizes accurately, the same scale must be used for all the model planets. Name Actual Diameter Scale Model (scale = 1 cm:5,000 km) (km) Diameter (cm) Radius (cm) Sun 1,392, Mercury 4, Venus 12, Earth 12, Mars 6, Jupiter 142, Saturn 120, Uranus 51, Neptune 49, Pluto 2, Figure Planet diameters, actual and scaled. broward county hands-on science Quarter 2 175

7 6 Guiding the Activity give its scaled radius, beginning with Mercury and ending with Pluto. After each answer, ask, Do you all agree with that scaled radius measurement? As students reach a consensus on the scaled radius of each planet, write the planet s name and its scaled radius on the board. Distribute to each team of two the metric rulers, scissors, drawing compasses, cardboard squares, sheet of black construction paper, squares of blue construction paper, and black markers. Have the roll of masking tape available. Tell students to use the square of blue construction paper to make the model of Earth and to use the black construction paper to make models of the other planets. If students do not all agree, ask a volunteer who has a different answer for his or her calculation. If necessary, do the calculation on the board. Conforming the scaled radii measurements on all the activity sheets will help ensure that all students planet models will be the correct sizes. Remind them that to make a model of a planet they need to place the construction paper on the cardboard, measure with the metric ruler the scale model radius of the planet, set the drawing compass to the scaled radius, draw a circle on the paper, and cut out the circle. Tell students the scaled radii of Mercury, Mars, and Pluto are too small to be measured with the drawing compass. Have students measure the scaled diameters of these three planets with their metric rulers and handdraw the circles. Tell them to stick each of the five small models to one end of a piece of masking tape and to fold the other end back on itself, sticky sides together. Tell students to write the name of the planet on the tape handle with a black marker. Refer to Figure 14-2 and draw an example on the board. Suggest they draw the larger planets first, close to the corners of the black construction paper. Tell them to make a practice swing around with their drawing compasses to make sure the circle will not go off the edge of the paper. Safety Note: Remind students to use caution when handling the compass. Tell them to keep the point of the compass away from their eyes. broward county hands-on science Quarter 2 177

8 Guiding the Activity Tell students to write the names of the four largest planets on strips of masking tape with the black marker and then attach the labels to their models. Scientists now consider there to be only eight planets (not nine) in our Solar System. Please review the information provided in Pluto and the New Definition of a Planet on page Figure Labeling the five smallest planets. After teams have finished making their models, have them arrange their planet models side by side in the same order that the planets appear relative to the Sun. (The display will be about 90 cm [about 35 in.] long.) Ask, Judging from your models, which planet is larger than Saturn? Students may refer to Activity Sheet 11 or use their mnemonic devices to recall the order of the planets relative to the Sun. Jupiter By looking at your scale models, what else can you tell about the relative sizes of the planets? Have students locate the actual diameter measurements for Saturn and Jupiter on Activity Sheet 14, Part A. Ask, What do these measurements tell you about the relative sizes of the actual planets? Ask, What can you determine about the relative sizes of the planets by considering their diameters? 178 activity 14 Modeling Planet Sizes Answers will vary. Most students will note that Jupiter and Saturn are much bigger than the other planets and that Pluto is tiny. Some will say that Earth is relatively small compared with the others. Jupiter is larger than Saturn. Answers will vary. Most students will say that the planets are all different sizes, some smaller and some larger than others.

9 Guiding the Activity Ask, Why do we not just compare their diameter measurements on the chart to visualize their relative sizes? Explain that although measurements of actual diameters can be compared to determine relative size directly, a model drawn to scale can give us a clearer and more vivid mental picture of the enormous differences in size among the planets. Most students will respond that they can visualize the relative sizes of the planets better by looking at a model than they can by comparing numbers on a chart. As appropriate, read or review pages 4 12 from the Delta Science Reader Solar System. R EINFORCEMENT Ask students to find the Sun and its actual diameter in the chart on Activity Sheet 14, Part A. Have them calculate and write in the chart the scale model diameter and radius to the same scale as the planets (1 cm:5,000 km). (The actual diameter of the Sun is 1,392,000 km; its scaled diameter is cm; therefore, its scaled radius is cm.) C LEANUP Have students return the drawing compasses, metric rulers, and cardboard squares to the kit. Have them discard the scraps of paper left from cutting out their models. The roll of masking tape should be returned to the kit. Have teams store their scale models in a safe place. SCIENCE JOURNALS Have students place their completed activity sheets in their science journals. broward county hands-on science Quarter 2 179

10 Connections Science Challenge Ask students to name different scale models with which they are familiar. After they have named the most obvious types cars, railroads, and the like prompt them to identify scale models they may have made or used in science or social studies classes. A map, for example, is a scale model. Emphasize that not all models are smaller than the actual objects. Ask students if they know of any models that are larger than the objects they represent. They may cite models of molecules or cells. will be much smaller than a 1:10 scale model of the same object. A 1:10 model of a car may be as large as or larger than a 1:20 scale model of a truck. Have students group together all the models designed to the same scale. Ask them whether the real objects would be the same relative sizes. (Yes.) Also explain that a model s scale applies to all its dimensions, not just length. Have each student measure different dimensions on a model width, height, length of one part, and so on and use the model s scale to calculate those dimensions on the real object. Science Extension Ask the Jupiter team to report additional information they have found and to record Jupiter s data on the class master chart. Additional Facts about Jupiter Volume (Earth = 1): 1,316 Mass (Earth = 1): 318 Density (water = 1): 1.33 Temperature at cloud tops: 240 F ( 150 C) Composition: small rocky core, liquid and gaseous hydrogen and helium Names of major moons: Io, Callisto, Europa, Ganymede Distinctive features: largest planet in the Solar System, larger than all other planets combined; gas clouds create dark belts and bright zones; Great Red Spot believed to be giant storm; thin ring, not visible from Earth, discovered by Voyager 1 in 1979 Ask students to bring in scale models that they or their family members have built, along with the box or instructions identifying the models scales. Let students compare the models to see that different scales result in different size models. For example, a 1:20 scale model 180 activity 14 Modeling Planet Sizes Science and Math If your students have had limited practice with decimals, explain the scale measurements on Activity Sheet 14, Part A, in simple terms: The number before the decimal gives centimeters and the number after the decimal gives millimeters, just as dollars and cents are written in our money system. Science, Technology, and Society In early 2001, while on its way to Saturn, the spacecraft Cassini came within 10 million kilometers of Jupiter. That was close enough for NASA scientists who were trying to answer longstanding questions about the atmosphere, moons, and magnetic field of our Solar System s largest planet. Cassini s flyby provided a rare opportunity to observe a planet using two probes at once another NASA spacecraft, Galileo, had entered Jupiter s orbit in Encourage interested students to find further information about the two missions.

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