Sunday, March 29, 2009

A model of the solar system - better than papier-mache!

Gunn Interactive Web Design has built a fantastic visualization of the solar system. Simply begin this Planets site and the clock starts to tick! The slide arrows at the bottom give information about what is happening and explain how the model shows different perspectives of the solar system. As this commentary is going, the model is still moving along with the time and date ticker going.

Planets would be a great visualization to use with any class from elementary to high school that is studying any aspect of astronomy or the solar system. For elementary students it is a great way to see how the earth and the other planets orbit the sun. For other students it can present lots of great problem solving "quests" where the students can use the model to try to determine how many rotations other planets make in comparison to earth, and other such relative questions about orbits, speed, and time.

Planets is one of the best visualizations of the solar system I have seen online - you can control lots of elements about the model, such as the speed of the orbits, the scale of the planets, and best of all, which object you are following. This really will give some great perspective on the movement of the planets relative to each other and to the sun.

You have to try this - as soon as you get to the Planets site the visualization begins!

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