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T.P Lab Activity

Alias ADP



Here is a lab activity that will give us a better idea of the size of our little solar system. The amazing thin is that you need only an open mind and a roll of toilet paper to get started.

INTERESTED ?????? Read on...

Toilet paper is something most people DO NOT associate with astronomy. Let alone the solar system. So in this lab activity we are going to put a new meaning to toilet paper. In this lab we will refer to toilet paper/tissue as ASTRONOMICAL DISTANCE PAPER. ( Stay with me, this gets better).

Astronomical Distance Paper (ADP) alias TP, is going to be the key ingredient in distance and size measurement of our solar system. In order for this to work all of the numbers used in this lab activity assume that the SUN is about the size of a softball, or the diameter of a roll of ADP. This lab give us a great opportunity to create a correct model of the solar system in both size and scale of the planets, and distances between them.

DIRECTIONS: (rolls of 1000 sheets are needed to do this lab)

1. With a lab group, and a roll of ADP each , carefully select a plot of ground that is even, and give yourselves plenty of room so that you can accomplish your tasks. Do not spend a lot of time socializing as you will only have one period to accomplish this task.

2. Place one roll of ADP at a starting point of your choice. This will be the sun.

3. Begin unrolling the other roll of ADP outward from the sun. You will have to unroll 36 sheets before you come to mercury. Remember that Mercury is the first planet from the sun. Once you have unrolled 36 sheets mark your position. Mercury would be about the size of a hole made by a thin staple.

4. Continue unrolling the ADP until you reach 57 sheets. This would bring you to the planet Venus, which would be less than the size of a hole made by a small paper clip. Mark this point and move on.

5. Once you mark Venus, keep unrolling the ADP. Earth, the 3rd planet of the solar system, will be 93 sheets away, and will be about the size of a pin hole. Take a minute to see the distance that you are from the Sun.

6. Continue counting to 141 sheets from the Sun. You are now at the planet Mars. Mars is the fourth planet in the solar system. Mars would be a hole about one half the size of the Earth's.

7. From Mars you will unroll the ADP to 251 sheets. This is the asteroid belt.

8. Once you have marked the area of the asteroid belt, unroll your ADP to 483 sheets. At 483 sheets from our make-shift sun you will be at the planet Jupiter. Jupiter is the fifth, and largest of the nine known planets. Jupiter to scale would be the size of a pencil eraser.

9. Continue to unroll the ADP until you get to 886 sheets from the sun. You will come to the sixth planet Saturn. Saturn would be the size of a hole left by the lead of a pencil.

NOTE: How are you doing for space? This is where we actually have to stop, read on to find out why.

10. The next planet Uranus is one whole roll of ADP (1000 sheets + an additional 763 sheets) from the Sun. Uranus is about the size of a small eyelet hole in your sneaker.

From this point on you have way run out of ADP use your creative minds and read the following:

IF you continued to unroll ADP, you would have to use many more rolls. In order to make it to Neptune you would need 2793 sheets. Pluto would be 3675 sheets of ADP away from the Sun.

Using the same scale you would have to unroll 24437 rolls of ADP to reach the nearest star Proxima Centauri 4.3 light years away. The distance covered by the toilet paper would equal 1735 miles, that is from Fairfield, Maine to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. If stacked on on top of the other they would reach 1.7 miles high. The bright first magnitude star Sirius shines at us from a distance of 9 light years away. This would equal 52000 rolls of ADP. If the first sheet of ADP were in Philadelphia, the last sheet would be 600 miles off the California coast. The stack of rolls would be 3.5 miles high. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Conclusion questions.....Conclusion questions...Conclusion questions...Conclusion questions


Reference: Original author Unknown. Changes and alterations from the copy I received years ago have been made to adapt this activity to my classes.