Kean University Continuing Education

Implementing the Science Standards K-4


Major Components of the Solar System

Introduction

The Sun and the collection of all of its companions that travel through space together along with it is known as the Solar System. There are a variety of objects in the Solar System.

The planets

The planets are the major components of the Solar System. The table below gives the approximate mass of each body in comparison to the mass of the Earth.

Solar System Object Mass (in relation to Earth)
Sun more than 300,000 times heavier than the Earth
Mercury 1/18 of the mass of the Earth
Venus 1/1.22 (80%) of the mass of the Earth
Earth 1
Moon 1/81 of the mass of the Earth
Mars 1/9 of the mass of the Earth
Jupiter 318 times the mass of the Earth
Saturn 95 times the mass of the Earth
Uranus 15 times the mass of the Earth
Neptune 17 times the mass of the Earth
Pluto 1/400 of the mass of the Earth
Sedna ?

The Sun is more than 300,000 times as massive as the Earth. It is the largest and most massive object in the Solar System. Pluto has 1/400 of the mass of the Earth. It is the least massive of the planets.

The planets in sequence

One of the important skill areas in K-4 for Standard 11 is that the students should be able to make a model showing the planets in correct sequence. The planets are briefly described below in the sequence in which they are found in the Solar System.

Mercury

Venus

Earth

Mars

Jupiter

Saturn

Uranus

Neptune

Pluto

Sedna

Materials

Procedure

1. Students discuss the planets as components of the Solar System. They write the list of the planets in their Science Journals using the sequence in order from the Sun. They note that the Earth is the third planed in the sequence.

2. Students research individual planets in groups. They make tables that list the properties of each of the planets. These properties could include the following.

3. Students report on their planets to the class. Students make tables about the planets and write these in their Science Journals.

4. Students design property cards that list the properties of each planet.

5. Students collect pictures of the various planets. Such pictures can be found in magazines or on the Internet. They use these to make a bulletin board display or poster about the Solar System.

Results

1. Students make the property cards and the presentations. They write about the planets in their Science Journals.

2. Students learn the sequence of the planets in the Solar System. They write about it in their Science Journals. They learn that the Earth is the third planet from the Sun.

Discussion

1. Students investigate how much mass the Sun and each of the planets has. They make a table of masses in their Science Journals. They study what the mass of each object is. They convert the mass to pounds. If a moderately sized sport utility vehicle weighs 2000 pounds (1 ton), how many such vehicles would be needed to make up the mass of Pluto. Continue this for the other objects in the table.

2. Students learn about light speed in the Solar System. If the Earth if 93 million miles from the Sun, and light travels at a speed of 180, 000 miles per second, students learn how much time it takes for light to travel from the Sun to the Earth.