12-inch yellow balloon (per group) 3 mm blue bead (per group) Permanent Marker
1. Inflate each balloon to approximately 12 inches in diameter 2. Make 3 to 5 small, black dots in a group on the surface of the balloon. These represent sunspots and should be 1-4 mm in diameter and varied in size.
1. Distribute a balloon and a small blue bead to each group. It may be easier to place the bead in a plastic baggie or glue it on an index card to prevent it from being lost.
Begin by having the students examine the two objects.
Ask: Why did we choose a yellow balloon and a blue bead? Ask: What do you think these two objects represent?
After allowing the students to examine the objects, tell them that this is a scale model of the Sun and Earth.
Ask: Using this scale, how far away would the Earth be from the Sun? Allow them to discuss this question in small groups and then as a class. Take the students outside or into the hallway and pace off 100 feet (approximately 35 steps).
Have one student hold up the bead and another student hold up the balloon at opposite ends of the 100 feet. Tell the students that this distance represents 93,000,000 miles, Earth’s distance from the Sun.
Summarize and let the students know that today they will learn all about the Sun’s characteristics. Prepare for a trip to outer space!