8 Hands-on Solar System Activities For Middle School Students

The solar system is one of the most intriguing topics for students. There’s so much to learn and explore, which leaves kids spellbound. While numerous books are available that deliver information about the solar system, getting kids involved in some interesting activities that raise their curiosity toward our majestic solar system is a good idea. 

The activities for middle school students must be simple yet challenging enough to get their minds thinking. Children in this age group can appreciate how planetary systems work. Therefore, giving them opportunities to dive deep into these subjects helps keep their interest alive. 

So, today we are here to share with you some fun solar system activities that will keep your students engaged in the class and leave them yearning to learn more on the subject. 

Fun middle school activities for learning about our solar system

1. Solar System Data Spreadsheet

Solar System Data Spreadsheet

Thanks to researchers and scientists, there’s so much data available about our solar system. While it is difficult to memorize it all, you can give your students a chance to collect data and discuss their findings in class. 

  • Divide students into groups of 3-4 and give them a project to collect numerical data about our solar system. Some groups can work on finding data about the sun, some on planets, some on natural satellites, while others can work on celestial bodies like asteroids, comets, etc. 
  • Let them know what data they must gather. For example, students can get information about the distance of planets from the sun, radius, gravity relative to Earth, orbits in terms of Earth days, data about moons, and so on.
  • Give them a week to collect all the information and let them bring it in on a particular day at school.
  • Allow each group to discuss their findings in class and help them prepare a spreadsheet containing all the information. 
  • Don’t forget to share it with everyone so they can refer to it later. 

2. Make A Poster 

Make A Poster 

Poster-making is a fun activity for students of all age groups. It gives them a chance to be creative and use their ideas to showcase their understanding of a subject. Have students bring their choice of supplies for the activity. They might need paints, markers, glitter pens, and other items to make a poster. You can provide them with individual posters and construction paper in various colors to create an illustration of the solar system. 

Give students the freedom to use their imagination and artistic skills to depict the sun and planets in order of their distance from the sun. When kids are done, display their artwork in a poster gallery so other school students can see and appreciate it. 

3. Create a Solar System Model

Create a Solar System Model

This is one of the classic solar system activities every student must perform in their school years. There are several ways in which a model solar system can be prepared. Let your students do some research on how they can create a model. On a suitable day, conduct this activity in class wherein kids can bring in necessary items and make their solar system models together. 

To make things easier, you can give them a list of supplies they may use to build their model. The list could include Styrofoam balls, toothpicks, dowel rods, glue, paint, paintbrush, etc. Students can use these supplies to make their models and give a short speech on the solar system when all students have completed their models.

4. Formation of the Solar System 

 Formation of the Solar System 

The formation of a solar system is a long process involving distinct phases that lead to its creation. Before conducting this activity in class, you must have a dedicated session when you teach students the different stages of solar system formation. This activity can be an add-on to review what has been taught in class. 

  • Print different phases of solar system formation and make multiple copies to distribute to each student in the class.
  • Next, ask the students to cut the pictures and paste them sequentially in the correct order of solar system formation on an A4 sheet and write about it in a few sentences. 
  • Collect the activity sheets and review them to understand how well students have understood the concept.
  • Discuss the correct order and answer any questions students might have to reinforce their knowledge.

5. Solar Eclipse Role Play

Solar Eclipse Role Play

A solar eclipse is a natural phenomenon when the Moon comes between the Earth and the Sun, concealing the Sun’s view partially or completely. Through this activity, you can help students learn about the solar eclipse and how it occurs naturally in the solar system. 

  • Divide the class into groups of four students and arrange a torch and three balls – one large, one medium, and one small.
  • Turn off the room’s lights so it is dark.
  • Demonstrate how students can role-play a solar eclipse using the balls and a torch. 
  • Call one group forward and let three students hold the balls while the fourth participant can hold the torch.
  • Ask the student with the torch to stand next to the person with the largest ball, i.e., the Sun.
  • Make the student with the medium ball, i.e., the Earth, stand at a distance from the Sun and let the torch shine its light upon the Earth ball.
  • Now ask the student with the smallest ball, i.e., the Moon, to circle around the Earth ball, just like the moon revolves around the Earth. 
  • Other students can now observe how the Moon ball restricts the view of the Sun and creates a shadow effect when it passes between the Earth and the Sun.
  • Repeat this activity with every group so each student gets a chance to role-play.

In the end, you can have an open discussion on the topic where kids can talk about their thoughts on the solar eclipse and you may answer any questions they might have.

6. Moon Phases Activity

Moon Phases Activity

As we know, the moon can be observed in different phases over a period of the month owing to its portion that is directly lit by the sun. Here is a hands-on activity that allows students to study different phases of the moon by closely monitoring it every night. 

  • Display a chart on different moon phases in the classroom. 
  • Ask students to observe the moon every night and make a note of its shape in a journal. 
  • Let them bring their journal to the class every day to see if others have made a similar observation.
  • Compare their observations with the chart displayed in the class.

7. Guess My Name

Guess My Name

In this activity, kids get to use their knowledge about the solar system to form clues to help other students guess the correct answer. 

  • Get a handful of index cards and write the names of planets, moons, the sun, and other objects found in our solar system. 
  • Fold these cards and place them all in a jar or a box.
  • Call one student at a time and let them pick a card.
  • They must now show the card to other students without seeing it themselves.
  • Students can now give clues to the student who picked the card, who must now guess the name of the celestial body on their card. 

8. Other Celestial Bodies in Our Solar System

Other Celestial Bodies in Our Solar System

The solar system consists of other celestial bodies apart from the sun and planets. These include natural satellites called moons, asteroids, meteorites, and comets. To conduct an activity around various celestial bodies in our solar system, let students select a topic of their choice and research it to find details such as –

  • How do you define it?
  • How does it appear?
  • How is it formed?
  • How does it move within the solar system?
  • What are some interesting facts?

Make sure you inform students that you’re not looking for numerical facts in this activity. Rather, the information must contain details about how these celestial bodies exist within the solar system. Give them some time to do their research. Now ask them to present their findings to their classmates in the form of a news report or a story. 

In Conclusion

The solar system is an interesting topic for middle school students. It is nice to see how it gets kids thinking and imagining the planetary system they are a part of. Using age-appropriate games and activities to help students learn is crucial for enriching their growing minds. Although some of the activities mentioned above may seem cumbersome, the result is a truly satisfying and inspiring experience for the students. 

Therefore, it will be a good idea to blend these activities with your lessons and allocate some time specifically for activities. Your students will enjoy these hands-on activities, and thank you for putting them together!

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