Toilet Paper Solar System
Hosted by: Society of Women Engineers Austin Texas Section
Visit our Booth: Sunday, March 7, 2021, 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Recommended Grades: 3rd, 4th, 5th
The Challenge: Create a Toilet Paper Solar System. Even in our own “cosmic neighborhood,” distances in space are so vast that they are difficult to imagine. In this activity, we will build a scale model of the solar system using a roll of toilet paper, any other paper, or wire.
- Take one sheet of toilet paper and test the pens. After learning the best way to write on toilet paper, throw away the test sheet.
- Make a dot on the seam between the first two sheets of toilet paper. This is the Sun. Write the word Sun beside the dot.
- Use the table of distances provided to mark off the distances to each of the planets. The number in the table is the number of sheets of toilet paper needed to reach the orbit of each planet from the Sun, so keep a running count as you go along. Make a dot and write the appropriate planet name on toilet paper at each distance indicated. Ceres, the largest asteroid, is used to represent the asteroid belt.
- Take a photo or video of your solar system and share it on Flipgrid.
- Toss the toilet paper in the recycling to clean up.
For more detailed instructions click here.
- Planetary distances table (available on Page 2 of this file)
- Roll of toilet paper (or legal paper sheets, wire, etc.
- Gel pen or felt tip pen to write on toilet paper
How does this activity connect to STEM and today's Girl Day theme of Imagining Beyond: Sky and Space?
Engineers and Scientists have to measure quantities every day. Sometime we build to actual measurements (e.g.: when building a house), at other times we build models to scale to study the properties of the actual system. In this activity we build a "model" of our solar system to understand the scale of universe.
We live on Earth a planet on in our solar system. When we look into the night sky we see many stars and sometimes other planets in our solar system that look very small. These are very large bodies that look very small because they are very far away from us. By building a scaled version of our solar system in this activity, we can understand how far away the other planets are from our sun.
Check out this introductory video for the SWE Austin activity, Create a Toilet Paper Solar System.
About SWE Austin, TX
Serving the area since 1979, the SWE Austin (previously Southwest) Texas Section is a non-profit organization that focuses on helping women achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity.
In the 70s there was one SWE section for the whole state of Texas. The officers alternated between Dallas and Houston. Anna Salguero attended weekend meetings in Houston, while she worked and lived in San Antonio.
In 1976 consideration was given to splitting the large Texas Section into smaller ones. Anna was to determine if there was interest for a separate section in the area. After a few meetings between Austin and San Antonio took place, the charter was submitted in 1978.
We received our official charter at the '79 Convention in San Francisco. This section was initially referred to as the "San Antonio/Austin Section". Later we were known as the "Southwest Texas Section".
In early 2017, the section boundaries were re-evaluated given the growing technical communities in Austin and San Antonio. The SWE Southwest section was renamed SWE Austin and it officially serves the Greater Austin area.
To learn more about us visit us at http://austin.swe.org/
Click HERE to join SWE today!