Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Try This Tops Idea!

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Try This Tops Idea!

Article excerpt

... adapted from SCALE THE UNIVERSE #44

by TOPS Learning Systems

relative size

Spark a lively discussion about the relative sizes of things!

1. Make a magnified copy of these tabs.

2. Cut them apart, mix them up, and distribute one per student.

3. Ask students to identify their tabs: "I've got the moon!"

4. Have students arrange themselves in a line from smallest diameter to largest.

(Don't rush in with answers!)


To qualitatively compare and sort distances, from subatomic to astronomic. To work cooperatively toward a more accurate understanding of how structures in the universe fit together.


Depending on academic level, some groups may need more discussion than others:

* An atom has a small, dense nucleus composed of neutrons and protons.

* All tabs can be imagined as spheres or circles where twice the radius equals the diameter.

* Our Sun's diameter (1,380,000 km) is roughly 1.8 times longer than our moon's orbit diameter.

* All Oort Cloud objects, from planets in our solar system to far-out comets, are bound by gravity to our massive sun/star.

* On a clear dark night, we can see a few thousand star/suns in our immediate "neighborhood" with the naked eye.

* Our star "neighborhood" spirals with billions of other stars in our home Milky Way galaxy.

* Our Milky Way circles with numerous neighboring galaxies to form a Local Group.

* Our Local Group rotates near the outer edge of many other groups of galaxies with the Virgo Group near its center. …

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