Pocket Planet Walk

Here is a great reminder of the way math can be used to appreciate one of the most beautiful things all of us on planet Earth enjoy together - the night sky, and the planets that share our Universe.

It's also an important reminder for those of us that love STEM that the point is solving problems, it doesn't always have to be high-tech at first.

I'll carry these cards in my Junior Ranger uniform pocket during astronomy lessons:

MINI-PLANET WALK IN YOUR POCKET




  • 2 index cards
  • Can use pens/crayons to draw diagrams if you don't have printer
  • Laminator or clear heavy-duty packing tape to "waterproof" cards
  • Objects to use as planet 
Card I: create these planets using guidelines below. Thanks to fellow ranger Sergio Typhoon for making these!

Card II: Rest of planets. Thanks to fellow Junior Ranger Sergio Typhoon for making these!
Back of Card I


Back of Card II

USE AS MINI-PLANETS

Look at the card above with columns labeled Diameter/Miles/Inches to give you a size ratio for each planet.

Use these items below, or - please - build or find your own that will work.

For example, if you are in Jacksonville Beach in Florida, the size comparisons for the planets could easily be built using sand and shells from the beach.

JUPITER
Quarter

SATURN
Redwood pinecone
(reasonable you don't have; black olive is good stand-in to give you an idea for size but probably want to find something a little less squishy of that size to tape to card.)

URANUS
espresso bean

NEPTUNE
coffee bean

PLUTO
grain of sand
note: This "planet" stays because I use as a part of a lesson on "what is a planet"

MERCURY
pin (head of pin is planet size)

VENUS
peppercorn

EARTH
peppercorn

MARS
pin (head of a pin is planet size)

SUN
I use the campfire as the sun. This is where you get to be creative depending on where you are.

BUILD MINI PLANET WALK KIT
If you want to do this with a group so that everyone ends up with his/her own "Mini-Planet Walk" kit, place the planets in a pile (so 9 in each pile), and have people guess what order the planet's should be in and what size each planet should be before giving them the master guide with the answers.

GO ON PLANET WALK
I do mine in a huge open field in the Redwoods, a stretch of beach, or along a fire road.

I have the advantage of spending a lot of time in National and State Parks, but I urge you to be creative.

You can do this inside in a long school hallway or on a football field.

Prepare as many trivia questions using the website below as you have people in your group.
When someone gets a trivia question right, assign them a planet. If you have more than 9 people, make people:

Astroids
Meteors that (gently) land on planet surface
Comets
Moons
Other Galaxies
Person that is "Mercury" takes 5 steps from the Sun, and then each person goes one at a time, following the number of steps listed on the guide until last person takes 499 steps.

Of course, depending on time, can guesstimate steps, or build an easy way to calculate this distance other than steps. Let me know if you have suggestions!

BUILDING OUT YOUR ASTRONOMY KIT
Most cities have astronomy nights hosted by Planetariums or museums. Amateur astronomers will bring out personal telescopes; some of them even homemade.  If you can't make it to your state or national park, start here.

Astronomy night at a museum. Astronomers brought out homemade telescopes.

MORE RESOURCES & KIT BUILT BY NASA, SETI & ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF PACIFIC

SHARED CREDITS: 
Sergio Typhoon, Junior Ranger

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