Alternate Activity 1: The Universe on a Human Scale
Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Newsprint or a large roll of paper, and markers
- Leader Resource 2, You Are Here
- Leader Resource 3, The Atom
Preparation for Activity
- Print Leader Resource 2 and Leader Resource 3.
Description of Activity
Draw a large outline of a person on one sheet of newsprint. This is a person’s body, and represents the known universe. Then make a small dot anywhere on the drawing. Explain that the single dot represents one single galaxy in the universe, and in our relative scale, is the size of one cell in the human body.
On a second sheet of newsprint draw as large a circle as possible. Explain that the circle represents the cell that was the dot on the previous drawing. Remind the group that on our relative scale the cell represents a galaxy, like our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Inside the cell place one tiny dot, as small as you can. Explain that the new dot represents an atom inside the cell, inside of our body.
On a new sheet of paper, as large as possible, draw a model of an atom (see Leader Resource 3), with a large nucleus, and a much smaller proton and electron. Explain that in our relative scale, this drawing represents our solar system, and the nucleus is our sun. The proton and electron represent planets much like our Earth.
On a final piece of paper draw as large a circle as possible, and a tiny little speck-like dot anywhere in the circle. This represents the electron-sized planet that we will call Earth, and the speck is a person. Explain that in reality, the scale of the circle and the dot is like one drop in all the oceans.
Show Leader Resource 2, a picture of our galaxy, The Milky Way, taken by NASA. Explain that the arrow, which points to the sun in our solar system, demonstrates the scale of our universe. Say:
If we looked at a picture of our own solar system, the sun would be enormous. But when we widen our view to include other solar systems, our own world seems smaller and smaller.