Hmm a little trick question for those who think on their feet. What about this big yellow one one in the middle? Is it a planet? They all eyed me with suspicion and slight derision and certainly incredulity ‘No! Ha ha ha of course not! Its the sun!’ I asked the question, ‘Isn’t the sun a planet?!’ ‘No!’ (subtext: Fawzia, have you learned nothing?!’) ‘The sun is a star!’ Awesome!
Let’s count the planets. We did. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. Now let’s divide them into two groups – our rocky ‘terrestrial’ planets and our gas giants. At this point with 4 planets on one side of the sun and 4 planets on the other side a child observed ‘it looks like a spider.’
Now let’s name and think of what each of these planets are like by being space explorers. And unknowingly to start with we ventured on a path of problem solving.
Mercury –we all swayed and ducked because of the flying meteorites crashing into the planet. One child labelled them ‘boulders’ and it stuck. Another said if she was on Mercury she would get a tent which would protect her from the boulders. We might all just join you. I commented, it would be a very strong tent.
Venus – we all experienced extreme heat on our travels to this planet and mopped our brows profusely as the sweat gushed out! All because of those pesky enduring clouds keeping the heat trapped in. ‘We could bring fans to keep us cool’ came a suggestion. ‘Good idea!’
Earth – the best! One child observed, ‘It is not too hot and not too cold’. We identified we can breathe the air and drink the water and live on the land. How awesome is the earth?! No need to problem solve with this one as it’s just right. Hooray!
Mars – keep your head down as there is red dust flying everywhere. What can we do?! ‘Shut your eyes!’ ‘Wear swimming goggles!’ Sorted.
Jupiter – the biggest gas giant in the universe! So big it has 60 moons! Would that be a bit confusing to open your window and see 60 moons? Or would it be exciting?! ‘It will be funny’. But! We couldn’t land in Jupiter – or any other gas giants as there is no land – just gas (like air). ‘We will have to stay in our spaceship.’ The logical thing to do!
Saturn – the rings are made from ice and rocks flying around. Would we like to whizz round in the rings? ‘No no no!’ Very emphatic. How do we get out of this one? I loved the suggestion that emerged – ‘We could follow the penguins and stay with them.’ Good idea! The penguins would be the key to safety! ‘Where would we end up I wonder?! Where do penguins live?’ A boy answered, ‘Antarctica!’.
Uranus – Major problems with this planet because it spins on its side. How can we combat this?! In short – we can’t! But we can be jolly and sing ‘Uranus on the bus spins round and round round and round round and round, Uranus on the bus spins round and round all day long.’ So that’s what we did.
Neptune – the furthest away and the coldest. Hmm.. ‘What to do on a day trip?’ ‘Wear a very woolly coat and hats, gloves and a scarf’. Problem solved!
So there lies a handy little guide of top tips if you, or anyone you know, wants to venture from Earth and visit the other planets in our solar system! Good luck! May the force be with you!