Are you struggling with engaging your students in understanding how bodies move in our solar system? LOOK NO FURTHER!
This activity is great for modeling orbits of planets, moons, and satellites. Ditch that old activity where students use pushpins and sit at their desks. This activity gets students up, outside, and actively engages students in learning! No boredom here!
Students will work in groups of four and use chalk, string, and their own bodies to model the orbital path of a planet. Students will measure the diameters of different parts of the circle and use this information to prove that planets do not orbit in perfect circles – the orbits should be slightly elongated in an ellipse. Students will complete the process twice to observe how increasing the distance between foci changes the eccentricity of the orbit, or how elongated the circle is.
This activity helps to meet the following Next Generation Science Standard:
ESS1-4: Use mathematical or computational representations to predict the motion of orbiting objects in the solar system.
Add this fun activity to your unit on Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion. Even my lowest level students engaged and did well with this activity.
- Lesson Plan
- Worksheet with background reading and student procedures
- Student Data Sheet with Analysis Questions
- Some fun in action pictures of my own students!