Take a Hike Through the Solar System

Take a Hike Through the Solar System
A sign depicting planet Neptune stands in front of a large bush covered in pink flowers.

Take a Hike Through the Solar System

Grades:6th - 8th
Duration:2 1/2 hours
New for the 2022/23 school season!

This multidisciplinary education program directly addresses Next Generation Science Standard MS-ESS1-3 – Earth’s place in the universe.

Using the capabilities of the Planetarium theater, your students will visit objects within our solar system, including the Sun, planets, their moons, asteroids, and comets. The Earth-based instruments, space-based telescopes, and spacecraft used to determine similarities and differences among the solar system objects also will be covered. In the process, students will learn why we use scale models to study systems that are too large or too small.

Following the Planetarium program, we will take a guided walk on a scaled model of the solar system on our “Solar System Hiking Trail,” which was built recently on the grounds of the Vanderbilt Museum adjacent to the Planetarium. We start at the Sun (represented by a beach ball) and along the way discover the scaled sizes and distances of each planet.

The trail is a challenging hike of precisely one mile. It is cleared and free from overgrowth. However, the dirt trail features some loose terrain and an elevation gain of nearly 300 feet. Your class will need to be in good physical shape to complete the entire loop. There will be stops along the way so that everyone can rest. There are also two opportunities, if needed, to cut the hike short and walk out on a paved road.

Teacher Resources

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Astronomy Education Resources

Visit this page to explore more than 40 educational resources curated by our astronomy educators! Discover apps that allow you to explore the Solar System, educational comics, tips for nighttime observing, and more.