Monday, July 2, 2012

Mapping the Solar System ... Apologia Astronomy

One Thursday morning, in Mid March 2011, my sister called me up
Grub1 had a solar system project - she knew my girls had a similar project

From the Apologia 

would we like to join her?

So up to the church we marched.

Story set out all of the items as her aunt read them off.

The sun was a soccer ball.
Mercury was a cake sprinkle.
Venus and Earth were mini MnMs
Mars was another cake sprinkle.
Jupiter was a ball part from Story's Ello set.

Saturn was an acorn.
Neptune and Uranus were chickpeas.
and little Pluto was another cake sprinkle.

Can you see the tiny cake sprinkles?

We lined them all up for the little ones to see and talk about for a while.

We also had an asteroid belt.
Can you tell there is salt all over the steps?

Grub 2 carried the Sun to our chosen location and wrote "sun" on the parking lot.

We carefully measured from one planet to the next.
The older children took turns measuring.
The younger ones took turns writing and putting out the right planet.

Engineer and Scholar became quite dedicated to the task of keeping up
with each of the words and their planet.

Song measured Earth.
Can you see how far away that soccer ball looks?
Scholar is at the soccer ball.
Engineer is at Venus.
Mercury is someplace between the two boys.

We were only on Earth, and already we were halfway across the church parking lot.
And this was taking a LOT longer than we thought.

We measured out Mars and decided to turn and head down 
our street instead.

I was standing at Mars.
They were carefully measuring out to the asteroid belt.

Standing at Mars
looking back to where the Sun 
had been located.

We collected the sun - since we didn't want to walk all the way back
to get it when we were finished.

We didn't pick up the sprinkles - couldn't find them.
And Engineer had squashed Venus and Earth.

Finally - we reached the asteroid belt.

We realized that the farther out these planets were getting - the bigger the gaps were between them.
It wasn't much farther to the Sun 
as it was to that asteroid belt.

The kids talked about how far it was getting
and how HARD it was making measurements with our little
tape measure.
We had moved it 5 or 6 times at least to get to the asteroid belt.
We were getting tired of bending over and moving it.

At that point, I considered my band days.
Marching band practice was about to come into good use.
I got the kids marching!
And we counted each and every step that we took.
We measured the first few efforts, and we figured we were "close enough" 
for the purpose of our project.

So ...
we aSALTed the road
and called it our asteroid belt.

Grub1 and Story ran back to Mars.
We commented again, 
it was about the same distance as Mars
was from the Sun.
We found this mind boggling as we also
considered just how TINY our planets were.

Jupiter came next.

and then Saturn.

We could barely see the church,
and Grub1 and Story were not enjoying their 
sprints to the last planet to take a picture anymore.

Finally, the distance grew so much,
that we really couldn't see
the kids when they ran back to the last planet.

At Neptune,
we had finally reached our house ...
we debated...
do we stop or keep going?

Pluto was a LONG way out ...
but the kids wanted to see where it was,
and so we marched on ... 
and on...
and on ...

I think we walked nearly a mile to where we finally laid Pluto.
It was a good thing we stopped - because 
there were only a few more steps left on the road.
As it was, we were walking up the last houses driveway!

They were VERY tired when we finally got back to the house.
The efforts took us most of 2 hours.
Maybe a bit longer.

And somewhere at the end of that road
was lonely little Pluto.

This activity was from Apologia Astronomy.


  1. What a wonderful way to learn! I also really like to think of the people who will come across your chalk writings and what they might think. :)

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. It rained a few days later, and most of the chalk washed away. But there are not many people living on our road, and it is a dead end. It wasn't long before those that walk the roads in the evening, were commenting on how cool it was that we had done that. It was a ton of fun! We will probably do it again in a year or two, as the young batch reach that book.


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