Scale Models

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University of Texas at Austin
McDonald Observatory

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McDonald Observatory



Introduction: Without being informed of the expected product, the students will make a Play-doh model of the Earth-Moon system, scaled to size and distance. The facilitator will reveal the true identity of the system at the conclusion of the activity. During the construction phase, students try to guess what members of the solar system their model represents. Each group receives different amounts of Play-doh, with each group assigned a color (red, blue, yellow, white). At the end, groups set up their models and inspect the models of other groups. They report patterns of scale that they notice; as the amount of Play-doh increases, for example, so do the size and distance of the model.

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