Planetary Pathways


Project Description

Students create a rotating model of the Sun, Earth, and Moon as they bring to life their learnings about planetary orbits. The model they create, called an Orrery, teaches students about how the relationship between our planet and other celestial bodies affect life on Earth and how those relationships change through the year. Students will add and program electronics including a motor to drive the model and lights to illuminate the sun. They will learn how the movement of the Sun, Earth, and Moon affects what we see in the sky.

three students working on a planetary pathway

Key Concepts

Understand the concept of seasons and movement of the Earth and Sun. Develop understanding of the phases of the moon and how they relate to the Earth and Sun. Integrating circuitry and programming lights and motors.

Students Take Home

Completed working Orrery model.

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) support for 5th grade learners:

Performance Expectations Arrangement(s):

5-ESS1: Earth’s Place in the Universe

Performance Expectations

5-ESS1-1: Support an argument that differences in the apparent brightness of the sun compared to other stars is due to their relative distances from the Earth.

5-ESS1-2: Represent data in graphical displays to reveal patterns of daily changes in length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky.