with assistance from Stu Grove
It is difficult to compare the sizes of the planets in our solar system directly since the solar system is so vast and the planets are so large. In science making small models of very large items is a helpful hands-on way to compare sizes. In this activity various household items and food samples are used to represent the planets and illustrate their relative sizes. This activity is also a good way to review the names of the planets, the inner and outer planets’ locations, but not their relative distances from one another.
This is sometimes known as the "Earth as a Peppercorn" Activity. The Earth is eight thousand miles wide! The peppercorn is eight hundredths of an inch wide. What about the Sun? It is eight hundred thousand miles wide. The ball representing it is eight inches wide. So, one inch in the model represents a hundred thousand miles in reality.
The original version called for nuts to be used to represent some of the planets. We modified this activity to be safe in a nut-free school!