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Handout 1: Instructions

Used with permission from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 390 Ashton Ave., San Francisco, CA 94112. Originally developed by Dennis Schatz (Pacific Science Center) for Family ASTRO. Adapted by Anna Hurst. Copyright 2006 Astronomy from the Ground Up, Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

This activity demonstrates the different sizes of the nine planets in our solar system. Follow the steps outlined below to see the relative size (volume) of each planet. Start with a big three-pound ball of modeling dough, which represents the volume of all the planets combined.

1. Divide the entire ball into 10 equal parts. You may find it easiest to start by rolling the ball into one big hot-dog shape.

  • Combine 6 parts, roll them into a ball, and put the ball into the Jupiter box.
  • Combine 3 parts and put them into the Saturn box.

2. Cut the remaining part into 10 equal parts.

  • Take 5 parts and combine them with the ball in the Saturn box.
  • Combine 2 parts to put into the Neptune box.
  • Put 2 parts into the Uranus box.

3. Cut the remaining part into 4 equal parts.

  • Take 3 parts and combine them with the ball in the Saturn box.

4. Cut the remaining part into 10 equal parts.

  • Put 2 parts into the Earth box.
  • Put 2 parts into the Venus box.
  • Take 4 parts and combine them with the ball in the Uranus box.

5. Combine the remaining 2 parts and cut into 10 equal parts.

  • Put 1 part into the Mars box.
  • Take 4 parts and combine them with the ball in the Neptune box.
  • Take 4 parts and combine them with the ball in the Uranus box.

6. Cut the remaining part into 10 equal parts.

  • Put 7 parts into the Mercury box.
  • Take 2 parts and combine them with the ball in the Uranus box.

7. Cut the remaining part into 10 equal parts.

  • Take 9 parts and combine them with the ball in the Uranus box.
  • Put 1 part into the Pluto box.

And now...

Now that you have divided the modeling dough to represent the planets by volume, roll the pieces in each planet's box into balls to best represent the shapes of the planets.

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Last updated on Saturday, November 8, 2014.

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