How to make 3D Solar System Project for Kids
How to Make a Solar System Mobile
Making a solar system mobile is a great activity for when you're learning about the solar system. All you need to build your mobile are some simple supplies and an assortment of craft paints.
Researching and Gathering Supplies
Research the planets.If you want to use this for a school project, you cannot just turn in a mobile and barely know the names of the planets.
- Learn the planet's names and order: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.
- Some models may include Pluto as a planet, but scientists have recently classified this celestial body as a Dwarf Planet.
- Make sure you have some information on the sun, which is the center of our solar system.
Collect the materials needed to construct the planets.It is best to have everything laid out in front of you as you are doing this project.
- You will need styrofoam balls in the following sizes: 5, 4, 3, 2.5, 2, 1.5, and 1.25 inches. You will need two each of the 1.5 and 1.25 inch balls.
- You will also need a styrofoam sheet that is .5 inches and 5 x 5 inches. This is what you will use to make Saturn's rings.
- Get acrylic craft paints in the following colors: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue-green, dark blue, cobalt blue, light blue, white and black. You will paint your planets with these colors.
Find objects to use to suspend the planets.You can find these items at the craft store along with your other materials.
- You will need a wooden dowel that is 1/4 inch in diameter and 30 inches long. You will suspend your planets from this using string.
- Obtain a skein of black yarn or string. This is what you will use to hang your planets from the dowel.
- Get some thick white craft glue to help secure the planets onto the strings.
- If you don't have a hook to screw into the ceiling to suspend your mobile, you will need to get one as well.
Gather the tools you will need to put the materials together.You will also want to have these readily available during construction.
- Get a pair of scissors and a serrated or x-acto knife. You will need the scissors to cut string and the x-acto knife to cut out the rings for Saturn.
- Warning: never let a child use the x-acto knife. An adult should help with this.
- Get a jar or cup with a 3 inch diameter, and another with a 4 inch diameter. You will need to use these to trace onto the styrofoam sheet to make Saturn's rings.
- You will need a teaspoon to help smooth out the styrofoam.
Gather other supplies.These will help you in painting the planets.
- Get at least 8 wood skewers. These can be the kind you use for kebabs.
- You will stick these into the styrofoam balls to act as a handle for less messy painting of your planets.
- Find a couple of plastic cups for water and paint.
- Obtain a stiff paintbrush for painting the planets.
Stick a skewer into each one of the styrofoam balls.This will help you paint them.
- Don't stick the skewer all the way through the ball.
- Just put it through about halfway.
- Set them aside in the following order: 5 inch, 1.25 inch, 1.5 inch, 1.5 inch, 1.25 inch, 4 inch, 3 inch, 2.5 inch, and 2 inch.
Cut out Saturn's rings.You will need to trace circles on the styrofoam sheet to do this.
- Trace the diameter of the 4 inch jar onto the center of the styrofoam sheet with a pencil or pen.
- Center the 3 inch jar in the 4 inch ring you just traced. Trace around the edge of the 3 inch jar with a pencil or pen.
- Cut the styrofoam ring out, using an x-acto knife by following along your traced lines.
- Never let a child use the x-acto or serrated knife. An adult should always do this step.
- Smooth out the edges of the rings using the rounded side of the teaspoon.
Add detail to your sun and first few planets.You can do this by painting the styrofoam balls with the craft paint. Hold each planet by the skewer handle as you do this for a less messy craft.
- Put out your paints in plastic cups, and fill a cup halfway with water to rinse your paintbrush.
- Paint the 5 inch ball bright yellow. This will be the sun.
- Pick up your next ball. It should be 1.25 inches and will represent Mercury. Paint this one orange.
- Paint the next ball (1.5 inches) blue-green. This will represent Venus.
- Paint the next ball (1.5 inches) dark blue, and add green continents. This will be Earth.
- Mars should be painted red. This will be the next 1.25 inch ball.
Paint the gas giants and dowel rod.These planets are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
- Paint the 4 inch ball with orange with red and white stripes. This will be Jupiter. Add the Great Red Spot on Jupiter in the correct area with red paint.
- Paint the 3 inch ball yellow and the styrofoam ring orange. This will be Saturn.
- Get the 2 inch ball and paint it cobalt blue to represent Uranus.
- Get the 2.5 inch ball and paint it light blue. This will represent Neptune.
- Paint the dowel rod black.
Let the planets and dowel dry.They will need to be 100% dry before you hang them on the mobile.
- Stick the pointed end of the skewer handles from the planets in a large jar and let the planets dry without touching.
- Clean up your area a little bit while they dry.
- You can clean your paintbrush, get rid of your paint cups and water, and scraps from cutting the rings from Saturn.
Put Saturn together.Saturn is more complicated than the other planets due to its rings.
- Line the inner rim of the orange painted ring with craft glue.
- Push the yellow painted 3 inch styrofoam ball into the ring, taking care not to split the styrofoam ring.
- Set it aside to dry while you construct the rest of the mobile.
Putting Together the Solar System Mobile
Cut the string that the planets will hang from.You will need to cut these at different lengths so the planets hang at different levels.
- Cut the string for the sun the shortest. Make it about 4 inches.
- Cut the next string two inches longer so the planet will hang a little bit lower. If you cut the string for the sun at 4 inches you would cut the string for Mercury at 6 inches.
- As you go along, cut each string 2 inches longer. Neptune should thus hang the lowest of all the planets on the mobile.
Attach the string to each planet.You will need to do this to hang the planets from the dowel rod.
- Remove the skewer from each planet.
- Tie a knot at the end of each string.
- Glue the knotted end of each string into the skewer hole on the planet.
- Remember to glue the smallest string into the sun and the next longest into Mercury and so on. The longest string goes with Neptune.
- Let the glue dry.
Tie the other end of each string for each planet to the dowel rod in planetary order.The sun should be first on the left end of the dowel.
- Keep the planets a good distance apart. You don't want them to touch as they hang.
- Secure the string or yarn on the dowel with a dot of glue.
- Let this dry.
Suspend the mobile.You will hang it using more of the black yarn or string.
- Tie a long piece of string to each end of the dowel rod and secure with glue.
- Suspend the dowel from the strings, playing with the lengths on either end.
- Make sure the dowel is suspended horizontally, then tie the two strings attached to the ends of the dowel together tightly.
- Use the remaining ends of the strings to tie the mobile to a hook in the ceiling.
QuestionWhere do I find Styrofoam balls?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerLook for them in craft stores and craft sections of box stores. You can also find them online through craft suppliers and auction traders. You might also find them in dollar stores and thrift stores but call first.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is a wooden dowel?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerA wooden dowel is simply a straight stick made out of wood. It is usually 12 inches long or 36 inches long. It can be as thin as a pencil (or thinner!) or as thick as your thumb. You can buy it at most arts and crafts shops.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I make a solar system with an asteroid belt on a big cake?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUse fondant with airbrushing for the planets (make round balls and paint with food coloring). The asteroid belt could be formed by making cake or cookie balls, arranged along the top of the cake in a wavy or straight line, as desired.Thanks!
QuestionWhy are the planets in the order they are in?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBecause that is how they are in the solar system's orbit based on their distance from the sun.Thanks!
QuestionWhat kinds of balls can I use to represent the planets?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAny type of ball can work, but try to choose something that is sturdy enough while being light enough. Look in dollar stores for a variety of differently sized strong, lightweight balls.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the science behind this project?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt teaches you: the order of the planets, the planets' names, and will help you study more because it's fun and you get to make stuff with your friends.Thanks!
QuestionHow many planets are there?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIncluding dwarf planets, thousands. If you mean only rocky planets and gassy planets, then eight: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.Thanks!
QuestionMust I only use a box to put my planets in, or can I use something else?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou could use whatever you want as long as it has a roof. I used a hanging rod for clothing and tied the styrofoam balls onto it, then taped them on so they wouldn't slide.Thanks!
QuestionCan we add the moon by Earth to make it more realistic?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, but many of the planets have moons, including Saturn, which I believe has 62 moons.Thanks!
QuestionWhy are all the planets in the mobile in a line?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBecause the model is attached to one item to give it support. They cannot move continuously, so they are still and are arranged thus that they are in a line. However, if you try to move them and if they are able to move in a circle then you can see the working solar system. At that stage, it would be hard to keep them in a single line.Thanks!
Can I not glue Saturn's rings to the ball? Could I just use tooth picks instead?
Short Video: How to Make a Solar System Mobile
1. Stick wooden skewers into the center of 9 styrofoam balls of various sizes.
2. Paint the balls to look like the planets and the sun using craft paint.
3. Take the skewers out of the styrofoam balls once they're dry.
4. Cut 9 pieces of string so each one is 2 inches longer than one before it.
5. Tie a knot at the end of each piece of string.
6. Glue the knots to the skewer holes on the styrofoam balls.
7. Tie the pieces of string to a long rod so the balls are evenly spaced apart.
8. Tie long pieces of string to the ends of the rod and hang the mobile from a hook.
- Make sure everything is secured with glue.
- You might want to paint or color your planets over newspaper to avoid getting your work area too messy.
- Be careful when using scissors and the x-acto knife.
- Be careful with your mobile, as it is fragile.
- You could also use cardboard instead of styrofoam balls.
- You can use water paints to add effects in the planets.
- Make sure you have the right sizes of paintbrushes. Large paintbrushes on small planets may spill paint all over the place, while smaller paintbrushes on larger planets would take too much time to paint.
Sources and Citations
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