Free Lesson

Our Solar System

Explore our solar system, from the Sun to planets and other celestial bodies.

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Grade Level 3-9

Earth and Space Science

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Explore our solar system.

Engage your students in activities at different stations to learn about the properties of the Sun, the characteristics of the planets, other bodies in the solar system, the structure of the solar system, and space exploration.

Each station has 3-4 activities that do not need to be completed in any specific order. Students are encouraged to try as many activities as possible, but none are required.

Lessons with an asterisk * use common household items.

Our Solar System primarily focuses on Earth and space science themes, but it also integrates physical science topics. While developed for students in grades 3-9, these lessons can be adapted for all ages.

The Sun*

Students identify interesting facts about the Sun, while addressing common misconceptions; construct a model of the Sun to identify key structures and processes; experiment with heat lamps to demonstrate how energy radiates from the Sun and how effective various materials are at blocking radiation; and learn about the Sun’s energy, space weather, and auroras.

The Planets*

Students play games to become familiar with the names of objects and structures in the solar system; and create a solar system fan to identify the order of the planets, their visible features, and key characteristics.

Other Bodies

Students watch videos, read, and play games to learn about other bodies within the solar system besides planets. They’ll investigate the characteristics of large, non-planetary objects to identify the characteristics of planets and determine why each object is not classified as a planet.

Structure and Scale

Students choose food items to represent the planets and demonstrate the relative size of objects in the solar system; walk the relative distances between planets by taking one step per astronomical unit to demonstrate the vast distances between planets; and watch videos and read about the formation, structure, and out limits of the solar system.


Students use an app to plan a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) to become familiar with mission objectives, rocket assembly, the launch process, and docking with the ISS. They will create a mission objective, name the mission, and design a mission patch. Students will also watch videos and play games to learn about three space telescopes, with a focus on the James Webb Space Telescope, as well as NASA’s Artemis program.

This lesson requires download of NASA’s free app, Rocket Science: Ride to Station.

  • Approximate program time: 2 hours

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aligned

  • Common Core State Standards (CCSS) aligned

In Partnership

Our Solar System is based upon work supported by NASA under agreement #NNX16AD70A. Any opinions, findings, conclusions and/or recommendations expressed in these materials are those of Challenger Center and do not necessarily reflect the views of NASA.