Science teachers often require students to make a model of the solar system, or a single planet, such as Jupiter. According to the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Tennessee, "Jupiter is by far the largest of the planets. It is more than twice as massive as all other planets combined..." Making a model of Jupiter is easily accomplished in a single weekend with moderate adult supervision for elementary or middle school students.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Styrofoam ball, 10-inch diameter
- Image of Jupiter
- Acrylic paint, red, rust, ivory, terra cotta
- Clear acrylic sealer
- Paintbrush, craft size
- Dowel rod, 1/2-inch diameter by 12-inch length
- Wood glue, No. 2 gauge (1/4-inch diameter)
- Wood plaque, unfinished wood, 12-inch width by 12-inch length by 3/4-inch thickness
- Wood screw
Place a styrofoam ball on top of the neck of a clean jar, and paint in an unevenly striped pattern with the red, rust, ivory and terra cotta coloured acrylic paints. Refer to an image of Jupiter and attempt to recreate, as best you can, the striped pattern of Jupiter's surface. Move the ball around to get the section directly over the jar. Allow the paint to dry at least 12 hours.
Center the wood dowel rod on top of the wood plaque. Squirt a dab of wood glue beneath the rod, and hold the rod into position. Place a wood screw beneath the plaque, aligned with the dowel rod.
Screw the No. 2 gauge wood screw up through the wood plaque and into the dowel rod with the screwdriver.
Push the bottom centre of the styrofoam Jupiter down onto the dowel about 5 inches. Remove the ball and fill the hole created by the rod about half full with wood glue.
Replace the model of Jupiter on the dowel rod, allowing the glue to dry. According to the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Tennessee, "Jupiter has features very different from terrestrial planets. Its composition is more like that of stars, and if it has any solid surface it is hidden deep at its centre: Jupiter is apparently almost entirely gas and liquid. It also has an internal energy source and enormous magnetic fields."
Tips and warnings
- According to the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Tennessee, "...the 4 largest moons of Jupiter (the Galilean Moons) are sufficiently interesting in their own right that they are among the most studied objects in the Solar System." If the teacher has asked for the moons to be included in the model of Jupiter, use toothpicks or plastic swizzle sticks to stick into the styrofoam ball, then push a 3-inch diameter styrofoam ball down onto each stick. Place a drop of glue in the hole caused by the toothpick/stick, and replace the ball. Paint the moons white or grey. You can label your model, by applying a self-adhesive label onto the wood plaque with the planet's name and the name of the student.
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