How to Build a Handmade Solar System

Written by alandra greenlee
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How to Build a Handmade Solar System
Solar system models help students to visualise its size. (solar system image by Svetlana Gajic from

Building a handmade solar system is a common assignment for students. Not only will it improve the student's understanding of our expansive solar system, but it will foster creativity. It often comes as a surprise to students exactly how large our solar system is and how small Earth is in comparison to other planets, such as Jupiter. Because of this, it is important to build a model of the solar system to scale. With a few easily obtainable items, you can build a handmade solar system.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Modelling clay of varying colours
  • Poster board
  • Markers
  • Ruler
  • Glue

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  1. 1

    Mold the scaled planets using modelling clay. Use an online reference to determine the size each planet should be by declaring the size of your sun first; remember that it must be huge to keep everything in scale. Be sure to follow the drying instructions on the modelling clay to prevent deformation of your planets.

  2. 2

    Draw an outline of your planets' orbits on the poster board using markers. Determine the scaled orbit radius using the online reference. Start by marking the centre of the poster board for your sun and continue drawing orbits around this centre point.

  3. 3

    Decide where you are going to place your planets on their orbitals by marking with a marker. Remember that the planets very rarely form a straight line, so not being a perfectionist may pay off!

  4. 4

    Affix your planets to their designated places using glue. Be sure to put the planets in their proper order. Make sure that the glue on the planets has dried securely before moving the poster board.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are worried about drawing a perfect circle for your orbits, tie a string to your marker and hold the free end of the string at the centre of your solar system. Stretching the string to its full length, begin drawing a circle by using the string as the radius of the orbit.
  • Distinguish your planets from one another by modelling their distinguishing features; for example, Mars is the red planet, and Saturn has rings.
  • You may wish to label your planets. This can be done by labelling the planet itself or by writing the planet's name on the poster board.

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