Year 7 students took part in a modelling exercise to show the position of planets in the solar system. Pairs of students represented each planet, moving in a scaled orbit around the sun.
The exercise is useful as it highlights the differences in distance between the sun and the planets, and how this impacts on the duration of each planet’s year. For example, a year is a measure of how long it takes for a planet to make one complete orbit of the sun. One Earth year takes 365 days (or 366 days in a leap year). Mercury’s proximity to the sun means it completes one full orbit in 88 days, meaning a year is just 88 days long on Mercury. Meanwhile Neptune, the most distant planet from the sun, takes almost 165 Earth years to make a single orbit. What other effects might distance from the sun have on the planets?
Video demonstrations by the students can be located here:
Stephen Potts | Teacher of Science Biology & TOK