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  • Solar System Scale

    Book Chapter | March 2011

    Sizes and distances in the solar system are difficult to visualize. In this activity, students calculate scaled distances and planetary diameters to planets in our solar system. They then make a model in a large open…

  • The Formation of the Solar System

    Book Chapter | March 2011

    Over the last four centuries, people have developed many theories to explain the origin and evolution of the solar system. Today, the theory most commonly held by scientists is known as the solar nebula theory. In this…

  • What’s Inside Our Solar System?

    Book Chapter | March 2012

    The purpose of this assessment probe is to elicit students’ ideas about the solar system. The probe is designed to find out if students can distinguish between objects in the solar system and objects outside of the…

  • The Dimensions of the Solar System

    Journal Article | July 2007

    A few new wrinkles have been added to the popular activity of building a scale model of the solar system. Students can learn about maps and scaling using easily accessible online resources that include satellite images…

  • Sizing Up the Solar System

    Journal Article | September 2011

    Students learn about the importance of scale in scientific models. This article describes one approach teachers can use to elicit students' misconceptions about the distance between planets in our solar system.

  • The Virtual Solar System Project

    Journal Article | February 2001

    In the course, Virtual Solar System, students construct models of the solar system in an inquiry framework to learn fundamental astronomical concepts. This paper describes the course, the underlying principles for its…

  • Tried and True: Solar System in the Hallway

    Journal Article | April 2009

    After studying phenomena related to the positions and motions of the Earth, Sun, and Moon, many students are familiar with the positional ordering of the planets, but their knowledge of the distances involved is vague.…

  • Embodying Earth's Place in the Solar System

    Journal Article | December 2015

    Upper elementary students investigate seasonal constellations using software and model them with their bodies.

  • Scope on the Skies: A Model Solar System

    Journal Article | January 2016

    This column focuses on astronomy throughout the year. This month’s issue discusses planets and their orbital positions.

  • Scope on the Skies: Solar system update

    Journal Article | April 2006

    Our knowledge of the solar system and of orbital dynamics has undergone some changes as telescope technology improved. This month's Scope on the skies discusses the newest developments within the solar system and…

  • Editor’s Roundtable: Our solar system and beyond

    Journal Article | July 2007

    This month’s column reveals our themes for the upcoming school year and beyond, which have been intentionally designed to touch on all the NSES content standards for grades 5-8. In addition, you are encouraged to write…

  • Seeing the Solar System Through Two Perspectives

    Journal Article | December 2015

    Primary students explore Earth and space science by modeling and observing patterns.

  • Seeing the Solar System Through Two Perspectives

    Journal Article | January 2016

    Upper elementary students explore Earth and space science by modeling and observing patterns.

  • Teacher’s Toolkit: It’s a big, busy solar system

    Journal Article | July 2007

    Anyone who teaches about the solar system can’t help but be impressed by the vast array of solar system objects, all of the robotic explorers, and the rapidly evolving view of each object and the systems they inhabit.…

  • Exploring the Solar System? Let the Math Teachers Help!

    Journal Article | February 2012

    Use an interdisciplinary approach to help students develop a true appreciation for the size of the solar system.

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