Astronomy Solar System
This article has information on science projects that focus on astronomy and solar systems and tips for all ages. Science project ideas for grades 1-4, 5-8, and 9-12 in the areas of astronomy and solar systems are included.
Science Projects for the Solar System, Astronomy
These science projects can help extend instruction on the solar system and astronomy. Each suggestion can be adapted to make it more complex and demanding or easier and less stringent. You can also alter the focus or the outcome, and repeat projects with or without a change, which - if nothing else - may help a student to perceive his or her own growth in understanding, skill, and knowledge.
1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Grade
Tips: Don’t limit your criteria to choosing projects that fit the curriculum you wish to cover: also keep in mind the child’s abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Most projects encourage the use of direct observation or simple tools. You may wish to use a calendar to help students keep track of daily entries for projects that occur over time.
- Write a short play with the characters Sun, Earth, and Moon talking about their relationship with each other.
- Keep track of the course of the sun across the sky (without looking at it directly) across a longish period of time (a month, for example). How does it change?
- Watch the rising and setting of the Moon and visible planets across a longish period of time (a month, for example). How do they change?
- Learn to identify the visible planets by location and color.
- Experiment with a binoculars and telescope to see the difference in how the Moon and visible planets look.
- Make a model of the motion of the planets and the Moon.
- Make a poster of the phases of the Moon.
- Explain the relationship of the Moon to the tides by learning to read a simple tide table.
- Make an illustration showing the Sun as an energy source and how that energy is used on Earth.
- Create a model showing the basics of how solar energy works.
- Make a short movie showing the difference between rotation and revolution.
- Describe the relationship between the tilt of the Earth’s access and the seasons of the year.
- Create a “wanted” poster with a description of the Sun and planets, telling their important and distinguishing features.
5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Grade
Tips: Some students at this level may be able to complete some projects with a large degree of independence. Judge by the student and the project.
- Write an argument for the status of Pluto. How can something be a planet one day and not a planet the next?
- Stage a debate or discussion between various astronomers about how the solar system works. You may wish to include Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Galileo, as well as others.
- Do the research for making a scale model of the solar system, including the Sun, the planets, and their moons. Decide whether creating such a model is feasible.
- Browse the NASA site and choose 5 images that help explain or demonstrate some aspect of the astronomy. Use them to explain or demonstrate this aspect.
- Choose an Apollo or Mariner or Voyager mission and tell what it contributed to scientific understanding.
- Retell a myth that explains a constellation.
- Highlight the unique characteristics of Earth among the planets.
- Create a model that shows the role of gravity in the solar system.
9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Grade
Tips: High school students, for the most part, are likely to be able to be accountable for their projects, with some interim due dates, and perhaps a bit of prompting, depending on the student.
- Create a system for yourself to be able to tell time by the sun’s location in the sky. Describe it.
- Compare and contrast constellations that explain the same stars, but from different cultural perspectives.
- Compare and contrast the role of the Moon and the Sun in different calendar systems.
- Explain how meteorology informs astronomy.
- Create a timeline for the history of the solar system. Create a parallel timeline for a history of our knowledge and understanding of the solar system (key discoveries).
- Describe contrasting theories of the beginning of the universe.
- Write the biography of a star.
- Explain planet, galaxy, and star classification systems.
- Draw a schematic showing the effects of various elements on Earth’s atmosphere.
- Explore the knowledge that has been gained through the Hubble space telescope.