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Our Milky Way Galaxy

Objective

Students will make a model of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Materials

Paper plates (7" diameter or larger), black paint, silver glitter, gold glitter, stapler, white glue, paint brush, pin, thread

Background

We live in one of the starry arms of a large spiral galaxy called the Milky Way. The Sun and its planets (including Earth) lie about half way out from the center of the galaxy. The Milky Way is shaped like a huge disk with spiral arms of stars reaching out from the center of the galaxy called the nucleus. The galaxy rotates once every 250 million years. It is made up of at least 200 billion stars, as well as dust and gas. The Milky Way Galaxy is so big that light takes light 100,000 years to cross from one side to the other.

Procedure

  • Staple two paper plates together with the bottoms facing outward.
  • Paint the plates black
  • Paint a circle of glue in the center of one plate.
  • Paint spiral arms out from the center of the plate to the edges with glue.
  • Sprinkle silver and gold glitter on the glue. Allow the glue to dry.
  • Tap off the excess glitter.
  • Paint a spiral galaxy on the other side of the plate. Sprinkle with glitter.
  • Push a pin into the galaxy to represent our solar system, which is located half-way from the center of the galaxy.
  • Push a short pencil through the center of the disk.
  • Spin the disk on a smooth surface.
  • Observe what happens to the arms of the galaxy and the solar system.

Discussion/Extensions

What happens to the spiral arms of the galaxy? Where is Earth in your Milky Way?



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