Scale Down the Solar System

Scale down the solar system with a scale model made of peas, fruit, and nuts. You'll have a better sense of the vast size of the solar system if you try this science project for kids: the incredible universe.

Make your own model of the solar system.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Make your own scale model of the solar system.

You've probably seen lots of drawings and diagrams of the solar system. But, to make the drawings fit on a piece of paper, the artists have to draw the planets closer together than they really are. In this activity, you'll make a scale model of the solar system. You'll be surprised to see how much bigger some planets are than others, and how far apart some of them are.

What You'll Need:

  • Ball about 27 inches in diameter (such as a beach ball)
  • 5 peas
  • 1 orange
  • 1 tangerine
  • 2 walnuts
  • Tape measure
  • Large open space

Step 1: Make your model in a large open space that will represent space.

Step 2: Put the beach ball or other large ball at one end of the space. The ball is the sun.

Step 3: Place the other objects as shown in the chart below. (Remember to measure each planet from the sun.)

PlanetObject Distance from
the Sun
MercuryPea
1-3/4 inches
VenusPea
3-1/4 inches
EarthPea
4-1/2 inches
MarsPea
7 inches
JupiterOrange
2 feet
SaturnTangerine
3 feet, 7 inches
UranusWalnut
7 feet, 3 inches
NeptuneWalnut
11 feet, 4 inches
PlutoPea
14 feet, 10 inches

Go to the next page to find out how you can make an astrolabe and measure the position of the stars.

For more fun science projects for kids, check out: