Science Projects for Kids: The Incredible Universe


Planetary Walk

Take a stroll through the solar system in just over 1,000 paces on this planetary walk! Have you ever wondered how far apart the planets really are? This science project for kids on the incredible universe will show you just how much space there is in the solar system.

What You'll Need:

  • Ball about 8 inches in diameter
  • 2 pins with small round heads
  • 1 pin with very small round head
  • 2 peppercorns
  • 1 small walnut
  • 1 acorn
  • 2 peanuts
  • Index cards
  • Glue or tape
  • Bright markers
  • Yardstick
  • Large park or school grounds

Step 1: Use the ball for the sun.

Step 2: Glue or tape the "planets" to individual index cards, and use bright markers to label them as follows:

  • The larger pinheads are Mercury and Mars
  • The smaller pin head is Pluto.
  • The peppercorns are Venus and Earth.
  • The walnut is Jupiter.
  • The acorn is Saturn.
  • The peanuts are Neptune and Uranus.

Step 3: Use your own stride as a unit of measurement. With a yardstick, practice taking steps one yard long. Each step will represent 3.6 million miles!

Step 4: Set your "sun" on the edge of a large park or on the sidewalk of a long, straight street.

Step 5: Take 10 one-yard steps from the sun, and put down your Mercury card. Does this seem a long way away? Proportionally it's in the right place. Mercury is about 36 million miles from the sun.

Step 6: Take nine more steps, and set down Venus.

Step 7: Take seven steps, and put down Earth.

Step 8: Take 14 steps, and put down Mars. You've already taken 40 steps from the sun. Earth and Mars look lonely so far from the sun and the other planets. Yet this is how they are in space.

Step 9: From Mars, take 95 paces and set down Jupiter. From Jupiter, it's 112 steps to Saturn. Just 249 more paces take you to Uranus. You are halfway across the solar system!

Step 10: Next is Neptune, which is 281 paces from Uranus.

Step 11: From Neptune, take 242 paces, and put down your last card, Pluto. You've gone 1,019 paces, or just over a half a mile. The sun probably looks like a speck, if you can see it at all. If you were standing on Pluto's surface, the sun would look about as bright as the other stars around it. Pluto is, on the average, 3.66 trillion miles from the sun!

The stars may all look the same, but they're not. Keep reading on the next page to learn how you can become a starry night observer.

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