First, the kids created the Earth and the moon from one can of play-doh. They were able to make them sized relative to each other. Then they measured them and each came up with a ratio for the Earth to the moon. The largest in the class was 9:1.
Then they combined 15 cans of play-doh together to form one large ball. They then had to figure out how to create 50 equal sized balls using all of the play-doh. Then they took 49 of the balls and smushed them together to make Earth, and the other one ball was the moon! They loved it!
I had them create signs on toothpicks to be able to label their planets as they went along. Then we smushed it all together again and made the Earth, moon and Mars.
We added more play-doh to the ball, and using the same idea of creating many smaller balls and combining them, we made all of the planets (including the dwarf planet of Pluto). They LOVED doing this project. It took 3 class periods (over 3 and half hours) to complete everything.
They used math and logic to get through it all. It also involved leadership skills and teamwork. They learned about the relative size of the planets throughout the lesson and many said that they "get it!" now and that they'll always remember it!
Investigating the Planets
by Ms. Carol on May 10th, 2011
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