Designing a Solar System

Grades 6-8, 60min

Designing a Solar System is an activity that allows students to explore the dynamics of a fully-customizable set of celestial bodies. Starting with just a star and a planet in stable orbit, students can add planets, asteroids and meteors at varying distances and watch to see how each body’s orbit is affected. Students can freely play with this simulation, or can follow along with a worksheet to create specific solar system configurations.

Screenshot of the Solar Systems web app showing a sample solar system

Topics addressed

Students will be able to


Suggested lesson breakdown

This lesson is incredibly flexible – with the provided worksheet, students can work through it and have some free time to explore other scenarios in about an hour, but you should feel empowered to create challenges on your own as well that align with the learning objectives you’re targeting. You could also structure this lesson as a competition – ie, who can create a stable system with the most planets?

Next Generation science standards