A Dizzying Design to teach the Solar System


Curriculum: Basic 3 Science

 B3. Know the sun, earth and moon as parts of the solar system


- Assist learners to know that the earth moves around the sun, and the moon moves around the earth.


- Engage learners in an activity to role play the movement of the earth around the sun, and the moon around the earth





The Earth moves around the Sun and the Moon moves around the Earth. Try to visualise it and you will be dizzy already! Even more difficult is showing this in a drawing. A good way to teach this subject is to turn your classroom into space and your learners into celestial bodies.



Here is how:



Find 3 balls:


- 1 big one to represent the Sun. This could be a football or beach ball. It’s perfect if it’s yellow.


- 1 medium sized ball to represent Earth. This could be a tennis ball.


- 1 small ball to represent Moon. You can use a table-tennis ball for this.




The next thing is to draw the Earth’s ‘orbit’ in the form of an ellipse on the floor, like this:


Now, position one Child in the centre of the orbit, with the Sun (the biggest ball) on their head:



Position another Child on the orbit line, with the Earth (middle ball) on their head; this Child slowly walks along the orbit line, anti-clockwise:


This demonstrates how the Earth moves around the Sun, while the Sun remains stationary.


Let the Earth do a few circuits for everyone to see it well. Explain that it takes the Earth one year to do a full circuit. 




Now we will have the Moon join in. The Moon moves around the Earth. So, we need a Moon (Child with table-tennis ball) who circles around the Earth while following the orbit:


Explain that it takes the Moon one month to circle the Earth. That means that the Moon circles the Earth 12 times while the Earth does a full circuit around the Sun.




You and your learners are surely dizzy by now, but this basically shows how the Solar System works!


If you want to give your learners more, you can show why we have days and nights on Earth.


While the Earth circles the Sun, it turns around its axis:



(You could include this in the previous exercise, but your Earth-Child would most likely stray from the orbit..!)


Indicate on the “Earth’ ball where Ghana is; just make a mark somewhere. Have a Child hold the Earth with ‘Ghana’ on one side, like this:




Now make the classroom as dark as possible. Ask the Child to turn the Earth anti-clockwise, while another Child shines at it with a torchlight:



Explain that the Sun (now represented by the torchlight) is like a ball of fire, and gives a lot of light. That is the sunlight we see. Show how the light of the Sun only falls on ‘Ghana’ when that side of the Earth is facing the Sun. That means it is daytime in Ghana. When the Earth turns round, Ghana does not receive light for a while; then it is night time. Explain that it takes the Earth one day (24 hours) to make a full turn.





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