How to Make a Model Satellite

Written by andrew dewitt
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How to Make a Model Satellite
(Illustrations by Andrew DeWitt)

Space is a subject that captures students' attention unlike almost any other subject. Creating models of space technology such as ships, space stations, planets and satellites can be extremely educational and interactive as classroom projects. You can have your students build models of satellites as part of a science project. Once completed, each component of the satellite can be broken down into it's individual parts and discussed. The advantage of this is that each student will have a handmade visual aid to assist in the learning process.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 12-by-12 inch sheet of plain sheet styrene
  • Exacto knife
  • 5-inch-long, 1/2-inch-wide wooden dowel rod
  • 2-by-2 inch wooden cube
  • Acrylic paint in gold, blue and black
  • Drill with 1/8-inch drill bit
  • PVC model glue

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  1. 1

    Cut out two 5-inch-long and 2-inch-wide rectangle from a piece of plain sheet styrene. Add two vertical grooves on each piece to create the appearance of three separate panels on each satellite rectangle. Cut out two 1 1/2-inch-diameter circles for the satellite dishes.

    How to Make a Model Satellite
  2. 2

    Cut a "Pick up Sticks" stick in half. Glue each half to the back of the sheet styrene rectangles. Leave at least 2 inches sticking out from the rectangle.

    How to Make a Model Satellite
  3. 3

    Drill a small hole in the side of the wooden cube. This should be 1/8 inch wide and 1 inch deep. Do this on the opposite side of the cube as well. Drill a hole in the bottom of the cube that is 1/2 inch wide and 1 inch deep.

    How to Make a Model Satellite
  4. 4

    Place a bead of PVC glue on the ends of the sticks attached to the rectangles. Stick these into the 1/8-inch holes. Stick a 1/2-inch-wide and 5-inch-long wooden dowel rod into the bottom of the cube. Add glue to the top and bottom of the dowel rod. Place the dowel rod on a 3-by-3 inch square of sheet styrene for the base. If it is not secure, you can place some modelling clay around the base of the dowel. Glue the circles to the front and back of the cube.

    How to Make a Model Satellite
  5. 5

    Paint the entire satellite with black acrylic craft paint. Let this dry for 2 hours. Paint the rectangles with a coat of gold acrylic paint. Let this dry for 1 hour. Use this on the cube as well. Mix four brush loads of water with 1 brush load of blue acrylic paint. Paint this over the rectangles.

Tips and warnings

  • Speed up the drying process by using a blow dryer.
  • Be sure to wash your brush off, or the acrylic will harden into plastic on your brush.

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