Build a Solar System – (Easy-To-Build Model – Perfect for Science Fairs)
If you’re like many of us, one of your first science projects in school was building a model
of the solar system. Well it seems kids today still are making these homemade projects. We know, because a very
nice 13 year old recently emailed us wanting to know how to do it. Science can be so much
(All of these materials can be found at a local craft store)
1 big styrofoam ball for the sun (about 8 inches in diameter).
9 smaller styrofoam balls of different sizes to match the planets.
10 wooden dowels (read the instructions below to determine what size).
1 box (about 3 x 3 x 3 feet).
clay (a small amount).
paint (black for the dowels and box; yellow for the sun & stars; other colors for the planets).
construction paper (red, white, or yellow for rings around planets).
1. First, find a good box. It should be big enough inside to hold 9 planets revolving around the
2. Tape the box shut on three sides, leaving one side open. Remove the flaps of the box from
the side that is open.
3. Use black paint or construction paper to cover the inside of the box. This will be the universe.
Paint small yellow or white stars as a background for your universe.
4. Get styrofoam balls for the sun and planets. Make sure the sizes are proportional to the real
solar system, but on a much smaller scale. Paint the styrofoam sun yellow. Paint the planets whatever color you
want, but try to remember the color of real planets (blue for Earth, red for Mars, etc.).
5. Paint all of the dowels black, this way they will blend in with the background of the universe
6. Cut 2 dowels, a short one and a long one, and poke them into the cork. Use a nail to make
the holes if the cork is too tough. Glue the dowels so they stay in better. It should look like this:
7. Make sure the total length is long enough to fit snugly inside the box and leave about 2 inches
on the top dowel so it sticks through the box. By having this stick through the top, you can turn the dowel and
make your planets rotate around the sun.
8. Now, slide the sun up through the bottom, longer end of the dowel.
9. Poke a hole through the top of the box. From the inside of the box, slide the top end of the
dowel through the hole. Secure the bottom of the dowel with clay. Glue the clay to the box if it moves around too
much. So far, it should look like this:
10. Now you’re ready to insert the planets. Cut the remaining 9 dowels at different lengths.
These will be the distance from the sun. If you make the lengths equal, all the planets will crash into each other.
11. Insert all 9 dowels into the cork, so they form a “pinwheel.” Glue the dowels for
a stronger hold. Here’s what it would look like from the top:
12. Take the thread and tie it on the end of these “pinwheel” dowels. Tie the other
end of the thread to a pin. Poke the pin into the styrofoam planets. Make sure to place the planets in the correct
order based on distance from the sun. It should now look something like the picture below. (Note: In these pictures
the dowels are white so you can see them, but your dowels are supposed to be painted black).
13. Cut construction paper to make rings around the planets that need them. Secure the rings
to the planets with pins or glue.
14. By twisting the dowel that is sticking out through the top of the box, you can bring your
solar system to life.