How to create a solar system

Hey Star Lords and Space Queens now is your chance to rule your own galaxy. Let’s start by creating your very own solar system. Draw a map for other space explorers to find their way around.

Things to think about

How many planets are there?

What do the planets look like? What size are they? What are they made of?

How many moons do the planets have?

Are there other things floating around in your solar system? Is there anything dangerous?

Don’t forget to name your solar system and all the planets and moons and other things within it.

Facts about our Solar System

How to create a solar system

Our solar system is part of the Milky Way galaxy. Officially the system is called “the solar system”

We have just one star called The Sun.

There are 8 planets, 5 dwarf planets and maybe, one mysterious Planet X, all orbiting the Sun.

Most planets have their own moons. There are 200 moons in our solar system. But only one is called “the moon” – that’s the one orbiting the earth.

Learn more about our solar system at the amazing NASA Solar System Exploration website.

Don’t miss their EPIC interactive map of the solar system that shows where everything is at exactly this moment!

How to create a solar system

We would love to see your solar systems, post a photo of them to social with the hashtag #motatfun


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What is a Solar System?

A solar system comprises of a star and all the celestial bodies that travel around it – planets, moons, asteroids, comets. Some solar systems may even have two stars.

What is a Star?

A star is an immense glowing ball of extremely hot gases, mainly hydrogen and helium, where nuclear fusion releases a tremendous amount of energy. A few nearby stars are Sun, Proxima Centauri, Sirius, Polaris.

What is a Planet?

A planet is a large rocky or gaseous body that is spherical in shape and orbits a star. In our solar system, mercury, venus, earth, mars, jupiter, saturn, uranus and neptune are planets. With advanced telescopes, scientists are detecting planets around most stars.

What is a Comet?

A comet is a ball of frozen gases, rock and dust that is about the size of a small town. It goes around the sun in a highly elliptical orbit. Jets of gas and dust from its surface form a long tail behind it.

Introduction: How to Make 3D Solar System Project for Kids

How to create a solar system

How to create a solar system

How to create a solar system

I made this solar system 3d model for my kid. So, she can understand better and can remember all the planets name. It can be good for school science project also.It’s a good 3d model for classroom or homeschool project It’s easy and fun. Anyone can make it at home. In this tutorial, I will show you step by step prosses. Let’s get started.

For this project what you need:

1) Foam balls (Different size for all the planets and the sun)

2) Black Foamboard

3) Acrylic paint

Step 1: Making Planets

I choose different size of foam balls, the bigger one for the sun. For painting the sun I used acrylic color and painted with the paintbrush, for texture I used tissue paper. All the planets are hand painted. And for Saturn ring, I used foam sheet and colored it with acrylic paint and glue it to the Saturn.

Step 2: Finishing Solar System

Now I cut the foam board (11×20 inch) 1 piece, (3×11 inch) 2 pieces, (3×20 inch) 2 pieces. Then join together as shown in the video and make it like box Now paint with acrylic color using tissue paper so it will create a texture. Then take a toothbrush dip into white paint and sprinkle with your finger for more realistic look. Then using chalk draw the line of the orbit of the planets. And then stick all the Planets and the Sun using hot glue. Now your 3D Solar system is done.

How to create a solar system

David Arky / Getty Images

A solar system model is an effective tool that teachers use to teach about our planet and its environment. The solar system is made of the sun (a star), as well as the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, and the celestial bodies that orbit those planets (like moons).

You can make a solar system model out of many types of materials. The one thing you should keep in mind is scale; you will need to represent the different planets according to differences in size.

You should also realize that a true scale will probably not be possible when it comes to distance. Especially if you have to carry this model on the school bus.

One of the easiest materials to use for planets is Styrofoam© balls. They are inexpensive, lightweight, and they come in a variety of sizes; however, if you intend to color the planets, be aware that regular spray paint in a can often contain chemicals that will dissolve Styrofoam —so it is best to use water-based paints.

Types of Solar System Models

There are two main types of models: box models and hanging models. You will need a very large (basketball sized) circle or semi-circle to represent the sun. For a box model, you could use a large foam ball, and for a hanging model, you could use an inexpensive toy ball. You will often find inexpensive balls at a “one-dollar” type store.

You can use affordable finger paint or markers to color the planets. A sample range when considering sizes for planets, from large to small, might measure:

  • Jupiter (brownish with a red spot): 4 – 7 inches
  • Saturn (yellow with red ring): 3 – 6 inches
  • Uranus (green): 4 – 5 inches
  • Neptune (blue): 3 – 4 inches
  • Venus (yellow): 2 inches
  • Earth (blue): 2 inches
  • Mars (red): 1.5 inches
  • Mercury (orange): 1 inch

Please note that this is not the right order of arrangement (see the sequence below.)

How to Assemble the Model

To make a hanging model, you can use straws or wooden dowel rods (like for grilling kebabs) to connect the planets to the sun in the center. You could also use a hula-hoop toy to form the main structure, suspend the sun in the middle (connect it to two sides), and hang the planets around the circle. You can also arrange the planets in a straight line from the sun showing their relative distance (to scale). However, although you may have heard the term “planetary alignment” used by astronomers, they do not mean the planets are all in a straight line, they are simply referring to some of the planets being in the same general region.

To make a box model, cut off the top flaps of the box and set it on its side. Color the inside of the box black, to represent space. You might also sprinkle silver glitter inside for stars. Attach the semicircular sun to one side, and hang the planets in order, from the sun, in the following sequence:

  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Earth
  • Mars
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn
  • Uranus
  • Neptune

Remember the mnemonic device for this is: My very educated mother just served us nachos.

Installing a solar lighting system isn’t especially difficult. Much depends on the kind of light-mostly a solar lighting system will be for outdoor lights. You can buy solar lighting kits but you can also piece everything together yourself. The important thing is getting a solar panel that’s powerful enough to power the solar lighting system.

Step 1 – Solar Panel

The big problem with a solar lighting system is that most solar panels don’t generate much electricity. To have a viable system you need to have the best solar panel you can afford. This means not only in size, but also in material. It needs to have plenty of silicon.

The solar panel, or photovoltaic cell as it more properly known, converts sunlight into direct current electricity. The more of efficiently the panel can convert sunlight, the more electricity you’ll have for the solar lighting system.

Step 2 – Installing the Panel

The panel for the solar lighting system needs to be installed on the roof, preferably facing south, so it gets as much sunlight as possible. It can either lay flat on the roof, or can be angled upward to get more of the sun.

Taking extra time to ensure that the solar panel receives the maximum possible amount of sun is an investment, as you’ll be able to produce more electricity for your solar lighting system.

Step 3 – Wiring

You need to run the wiring from the solar panel to the battery. The electricity produced by the cell is DC, or direct current, and the current in the battery is also DC.

The battery should be in a convenient place for the solar lighting system. If possible, run the wiring inside the house so it’s not at the mercy of the elements. This can create more work as you’ll need to go through the roof or wall and run the wiring inside the walls.

Step 4 – Battery

The wiring will attach to the battery, which is essentially a storage unit. The electricity generated during the day by the sun on the solar cell is collected in the battery. When the solar lighting system is switched on, it begins to deplete the battery. The battery will only charge when there is sun on the solar panel.

Step 5 – Lighting

Appliances in your house are all alternating current, or AC. Outdoor lighting is DC. If you want an indoor solar lighting system you’ll need to use an inverter than can change direct current to alternating current, and the power will have to be added to the grid in the house (it can go straight in via the inverter, bypassing the battery).

Using low power light bulbs will reduce the amount of electricity needed, so the electricity generated will last longer. For outdoor lights you can connect the battery directly to the lights to power them; a good, modern, option for low wattage outdoor lights is LED lights. A single solar panel isn’t going to power indoor domestic lighting, but it will be able to power a series of outdoor lights.

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Before we dive deep into the game itself, you’ve got to understand a few things about the interface. Luckily, the interface is user friendly so it should be pretty easy to understand and use.

Look at the bottom of your screen and you’ll find a row of options. This includes controlling the time, adding/editing objects and changing the simulation. For now, focus on the add tool, located between the edit and power tools.

This tool allows us to create an entire universe of your own galaxies, star systems and planets! Be careful though! Putting a star in the wrong place in a star system will spell doom for that planetary system.

We’ll get back to the adding tool in a bit; for now, let’s set our target to the edit tool.

The editing tool is on the row of tools I explained before when we’re trying to find the add tool. Be careful with this tool! Use it with caution! Accidentally moving a star into a planetary system will spell doom for the asteroid belts and planets and, of course, life surviving on any of those planets.

The edit tool allows us to move things with ease. If you put a star in a planetary system by accident (I don’t see how but okay) then quickly pause the simulation (press spacebar) and move the star at least a few hundred AU from the planets and asteroids (depends how big your star system is).

Its about time we move on to the real action where we start adding objects to our universe.

Let’s get started on our star system. We’ll need to return to the add tool which will come in handy now. Click on it. Another row should slide up and reveal a collection of already-known stars, exoplanets, asteroids and many more (including black holes, white dwarfs, neutron stars etc).

Pick a star from the row. This star can simply be our own Sun. Your choice. By now, you should have selected a star and placed it somewhere on the grid (I like to have my star at the center of the grid). I won’t get into binary or multiple star systems yet, that’s for another guide! For now, we’ll just have one star. Click on that star and its preview box and a world of properties awaits you. Here you can name your star (be creative!), change its mass, diameter, density, luminosity, age, temperature and even more!

Now its time to add a planet or two! Like before, in that row where stars are (the All tab), planets will also be there. At the bottom right corner will be a small tab with properties. Where it says “orbit”, select it and place down a random planet or an exoplanet we’ve discovered (should be over 1,000 exoplanets!).

The planet is now in orbit! Whatever planet it is, if its a gas giant or terrestrial (rocky), you can now customise the planet’s properties like the atmosphere, material composition and more!

If you want to add a moon then simply select a random moon (or small moon) from the All tab and place it down near the planet. Depending on the distance the moon is from the planet, the orbit will become more elliptical if its closer to the Roche limit (the distance from the planet where tidal forces break the moon apart although the program doesn’t simulate this yet).

Once you’ve added many planets (although it may become unstable due to the gravitational interactions) you can start to change their properties. This includes their mass, size, density, atmosphere – you get the picture now.

Click back on to your planet and click on the preview box. The massive black box filled with numbers and words should open up to your right. Here is where things get interesting. If your planet doesn’t have an atmosphere then give it one now!

Again, more clicking. Click on the Temperature tab which brings up properties like albedo, atmosphere mass etc. Change the atmospheric pressure to roughly 1 Earth atmosphere (1 atm).
This will also produce a greenhouse effect (we’ve proberly learn’t this in Science) which traps in heat from the star. The atmosphere colour is random for each planet.

If the planet is in the habitable zone of your star (where temperatures are warm enough for liquid water and, therefore, life) you can start to add water to your planet. Go into the Materials tab where five materials are shown as sliders. Start adding tiny amounts of water to your planet and eventually, lakes, seas and even oceans will appear. Adding too much water will turn your planet into an oceanic world (where there is no land anywhere).

You should start exploring the game more in-depth now. You may not need my help anymore but if you do need help, always search on YouTube for tutorials! Even I have made some tutorials (although they are out of date).

How to create a solar system

How to create a solar system

A cheap solar panel system will forever be the best solution to expensive electric bills. Solar cells are getting cheaper each year.

While you could pay up to $10,000 for an off-the-shelf installation and could cover the system’s price in just over 10 years, it’s still better and more educational to make one yourself.

Let’s face it: we’re still living the post-traumatic stress of what happened in 2008, and we’re still living uncertain times when every cent we take from the bank is thoroughly analyzed before we actually sign a contract. The lack of financial stability has caused astute savings among those who learned how to save what they have, including energy.

We’re living in a war right now. The battle for energy efficiency has never been fought with more advanced weaponry, and the winners are all those who pay less for more month after month after month…

The first line of defense against paying more for electricity than you did last year is building your own solar panel system. Yes, you may have heard of Solyndra collapsing and may have even thought, at least once in your lifetime, how it would be like having your own solar panels mounted in your backyard or on your home’s rooftop.

And, for a moment, you were thrilled. It would certainly be nice being energy independent, let alone having an electric car that you could power with those solar cells to give you free rides for the rest of your life. And so on.

There’s a problem: how to you recover the costs within a couple of months?

Well, there’s a solution to that: build your own DIY solar panel system. Here’s how:

How to create a solar system1. Get cheap solar cells from eBay

There are a lot of solar cell types that you can choose from. There are the Chinese ones, with good results, the best price, but not guaranteeing much, there are the Japanese ones with good performance, good price and the guarantee of Japanese work, and there are the American ones, with the best performance, the highest price and again, guarantees over guarantees. Choose wisely with regard to your budget. For example, a rule of thumb in 2012 would be that the cells shouldn’t sell for more than $1.3 per watt. Buy a couple of cells you think would fit your solar panel system’s budget and preferences, and move on to step #2.

How to create a solar system2. Get tools

So you got your cells in the mail. Let’s say you received solar cells totaling 194 watts for $105+shipping (an actual example from ebay) that you carefully unpack, taking care not to break them, as they’re very thin. Now find yourself some tools like a soldering iron, solder, solder paste or flux (for removing the grease off the wires), a saw, some wooden board and protective glasses, a multimeter to measure voltage and amperage. And, of couse, a pencil and a ruler.

How to create a solar system3. Plan your solar panel system carefully

Place the square solar cells onto the wooden board and draw separating lines (carefully). You’re halfway through, after all.

How to create a solar system4. Wire the cheap solar panel system

After you planned the physical arrangement of the solar cells on the board, now start soldering the wires to the solar cells and then to each other.

First, link the cells in series. Respect this basic rule, just like if you were soldering batteries: the positive lead is to be soldered to the negative lead of the next cell. Do this for as many cells as needed to reach a voltage of 12 or 24 volts. Do not exceed that as you would enter the area of dangerous voltages. You want to generate serious power here, not fool around and you don’t want to electrocute yourself to death (take care!). The power remains the same, after all. You just need a minimum of 12 volts to kick-start a 12V inverter for generating 110/220V AC or charge your 12V battery packs. Linking the cell in series will increase the voltage.

Then, stick the cells to the board, carefully. It would be better if you made them a frame where they can be inserted individually, so you can replace defective ones, just in case.

Before you’ll have stuck all the cells in the right place, make sure you drill holes for the wires, individually. Make connection buses along the positive and the negative lead and then connect those buses (thicker wires) in parallel (plus to plus, minus to minus) to have a parallel connection and increase the amperage.

How to create a solar system5. You’re done!

You made your first functional solar panel system, and now you can take it outside to see what it’s generating. You first have to measure the voltage, and then the short-circuit amperage. Just make sure your ammeter bears the solar cells’ nominal power (108W at 12V means 9 amps).

You can now power anything that runs on DC current, charge your car battery and so on. If you succeeded doing these 5 steps, then you can order some more solar cells until you reach the power you want for your system. Remember, the more power you want, the larger the inverter you’ll need to get.

Now the hardest part of building the solar panel system, which requires increased care and seriousness in the quality of the work done, is connecting the panel to a pack of batteries and then to an inverter. You can use a computer UPS (Uninterruptible Power Source), but you’ll need more power to power your home. However, the batteries don’t have to be new, and they can be the lead-acid type, but it’s advisable that you should buy specially crafted ones for power storage and deep cycle use, since car batteries can only cope with high loads for a short time, and if they’re accidentally discharged below a certain threshold, you lose them for good.

Of course, there are lots of secrets you’ll find out only through practice, but the overall idea is that such a system is cheap and for 200 watts of power you’ll need solar cells worth about $200 and batteries worth about $400 to $500. If you get an inverter from ebay, or even better, buy a used UPS (handle with care), you’ll not go over $500 for the whole system. If you want to really power your entire home, you’ll need about $1,000 to become truly energy independent (as in not paying a dime to electric utilities). How does that sound?

Next you could try building a wind turbine that would supplement your power needs at night, when the Sun is over Europe (or vice-versa).

I know it sounds tough, and I know you’ll have a hard time getting started, just like with all the things you do for the first time, but after you start you’ll see it’s not such a big deal. And you don’t have to pay $10,000 for a solar panel system that’s only going to do the same thing as your own hand-built one.

Program an interactive model of our Solar System. This STEM coding activity guides you through creating a simulation with planets orbiting the Sun.

Activity Details

Program an interactive model of our Solar System. This project comes with step-by-step instructions that guide you through creating a simulation with planets orbiting the Sun. Then add facts about each planet that pop up when clicked.

Teacher Notes

Students follow step-by-step instructions to code an interactive Solar System. They do independent research about the planets and the Sun.


CCSS-ELA: 3.RI.3, 4.RI.3, 3.RI.5, 3.RF.4, 4.RF.4, 3.L.4
CSTA: L1:3.CT.1, L1:6.CT.1, L1:6.CPP.1, L1:6.CPP.5, L1:6.CPP.6

Get Started in 5 Minutes

  • 50+ tutorials for Grade K-12
  • Progress tracking (needs classroom setup)
  • Student metrics & certificates (needs classroom setup)
  • Lesson guides & answer keys
  • Marketing materials

How to create a solar system

Grades 6+
Programming language Tynker Blocks, JavaScript, Python
Experience Intermediate
Activity type DIY Project
Length 40 mins
Runs on: Chrome (29+), Firefox (30+), Safari (7+), or Edge (20+) browser
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How to create a solar system

What you need:

  • Cardboard box (old cereal or shoe box)
  • Coloured paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Balls (polystyrene)
  • Playdough
  • 11 straws or sticks
  • Printed pictures of Bingo and Floppy
  • Tape

How to make your solar system in a box:


  • Paint the inside of your box with black paint
  • Once dry, paint dots all over the inside for stars

The planets:

  • One-by-one stick the polystyrene balls on a stick and paint your planets (the stick helps you paint all sides)
  • Paint the Sun yellow
  • Paint Mercury brown
  • Paint Venus a pale yellow
  • Paint Earth blue and green
  • Pain Mars a red, orange
  • Paint Jupiter with red, orange, and white paint, swirled into patterns
  • Paint Saturn a pale yellow
  • Paint Uranus a pale blue
  • Paint Neptune blue

Build your box:

  1. Make a ring out of yellow playdough for Saturn
  2. Use a stick with blunt edges and poke it through the polystyrene ball so the edges poke out of each side (balance your playdough ring on Saturn)
  3. Arrange your planets and get ready to hang them in your box
  4. For the planets, poke the sticks through the back of the box and push the planets onto the sticks from the front (this will hold them in place, so you can rotate them)
  5. Cut two thin lines in the top of the box (ask an adult) so you can fit a stick through it and move it from side-to-side
  6. Poke the two remaining sticks through the top of the box
  7. Attach Bingo and Floppy to these sticks using tape
  8. Move the sticks from side-to-side, Bingo and Floppy can now float!

Take Bingo and Floppy on an adventure through space!

How to create a solar system

Our solar system consists of our star, the Sun, and everything bound to it by gravity – the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune; dwarf planets such as Pluto; dozens of moons; and millions of asteroids, comets, and meteoroids. Beyond our own solar system, we have discovered thousands of planetary systems orbiting other stars in the Milky Way.

10 Things to Know About Our Solar System

10 Need-to-Know Things About the Solar System

One of Billions

Our solar system is made up of a star, eight planets, and countless smaller bodies such as dwarf planets, asteroids, and comets.

Meet Me in the Orion Arm

Our solar system orbits the center of the Milky Way galaxy at about 515,000 mph (828,000 kph). We’re in one of the galaxy’s four spiral arms.

A Long Way Round

It takes our solar system about 230 million years to complete one orbit around the galactic center.

Spiraling Through Space

There are three general kinds of galaxies: elliptical, spiral, and irregular. The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy.

Good Atmosphere(s)

Our solar system is a region of space. It has no atmosphere. But it contains many worlds – including Earth – with many kinds of atmospheres.

Many Moons

The planets of our solar system – and even some asteroids – hold more than 200 moons in their orbits.

Ring Worlds

The four giant planets – and at least one asteroid – have rings. None are as spectacular as Saturn’s gorgeous rings.

Leaving the Cradle

More than 300 robotic spacecraft have explored destinations beyond Earth’s orbit, including 24 American astronauts who made the trip from the Earth to the Moon.

Life as We Know It

Our solar system is the only one known to support life. So far, we only know of life on Earth, but we’re looking for more everywhere we can.

Far-Ranging Robots

NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are the only spacecraft to leave our solar system. Three other spacecraft – Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, and New Horizons – will eventually hit interstellar space.

FAQ: Which Spacecraft are Headed to Interstellar Space?

Five spacecraft have achieved enough velocity to eventually travel beyond the boundaries of our solar system. Two of them reached the unexplored space between the stars after several decades in space.

  • Voyager 1 went interstellar in 2012 and Voyager 2 joined it in 2018. Both spacecraft are still in communication with Earth. Both spacecraft launched in 1977.
  • NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is currently exploring an icy region beyond Neptune called the Kuiper Belt. It eventually will leave our solar system.
  • Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 also will ultimately travel silently among the stars. The spacecraft used up their power supplies decades ago.

Science fair projects are very helpful to motivate the students towards scientific study. It also provides the possibility of observing the real world and related problems in a closer way. It aims to develop curiosity about science and technology. It brings about improvement in the manipulative skills, knowledge, and self-confidence.

Solar system began forming 10 to 12 billion years ago as a swirling gas and dust formed a dense core. To visualize the Solar system, understand the orbital motion of the planets and to locate the actual position of the planets the solar system science fair projects are helpful.


Some simple solar system science fair projects ideas include answering questions such as:

– Can we collect micrometeorites from the outdoor sources?

– Could the other planets support any life?

– What causes the phases of moon and what affects the phases of moon?

– How terrestrial planets are formed?

– Are there many other solar systems in the universe? Do they support life?

To study about the other galaxies and solar system present in this universe this project will be useful. A comparative study of why life is possible on earth and why not life is possible on other planets can be done in detail. Younger children can also build a model of the solar system and show the relationships between the planets.

Also consider looking at natural forces which occur in the solar system, such as exploring a question like, how are the magnetic fields affected by solar storms? Can we build a homemade magnetometer to measure that? The magnetic fields are affected by solar storms and cause small changes in its direction at the surface, which are called “magnetic storms.” A magnetometer operates like a sensitive compass and senses these slight changes in the magnetic field. A homemade magnetometer can be constructed.

Can we identify black holes? If the answer is yes, how can it be done? By this project, the mysteries and curiosity about the black holes will take a shape and a clear knowledge about black holes can be gained. A thorough understanding of the nature of black holes is neceessary, and a lot of background information will be necessary for such a project.

You can make your own comet to know the details about the comets. A large comet is a spectacular sight and is a star like celestial body, which has a tail and still people have lots of doubts about it. To know better, this project will help out.

How to locate the position of a celestial body by a sidereal pointer? A sidereal pointer is an instrument that helps you to locate each celestial body in the night sky. How to construct a sidereal pointer easily can be discussed in this project in detail.

Solar system science projects are fairly demanding projects that represent a challenge. Each of the projects related with solar system science projects develops cognitive skills and help the students to leap forward.

How To Create A Solar System Science Fair Project

Jordan Matthews is a High School Math and Science teacher who has worked as a judge and a coordinator of many science fairs. Check his Science Fair Project ideas website for some more ideas and information about constructing some solar system science fair projects.


Individual panel prices

Prices of DIY kits

Installed system prices

How to create a solar system

Solar panels are designed to capture the sun’s energy, absorbing its rays and turning them into solar electricity. The photovoltaic effect, or the scientific term for converting sunlight into electricity, is a bit complex. But don’t let that stop you from learning how solar panels work!

Find out how much a solar system would cost for your specific home

Here’s a brief introduction to how solar panels work before we dig into the details:

  • Solar cells absorb sunlight, which generates an electric field by knocking electrons loose
  • A solar inverter converts this energy into usable electricity
  • Excess energy is sent back to the grid or a solar battery

On this page

What are solar panels made of?

Solar panels are made up of polysilicon, metal, and glass. A solar panel’s solar cells, the photovoltaic (PV) component of the solar PV panel that creates electricity, is made up of silicon as well.

Most of the solar panel is made up of PV cells which are then covered by glass and a back sheet for protection. These layers are held together by a metal frame that can be fitted to solar racking on a roof.

Each solar panel also has a junction box on the back of it. This box is what holds and protects the important wiring that carries electricity to the inverter.

Dig deeper: Read more about how solar panels are made.

How do solar panels harness energy?

Solar panels are built to generate electricity from the sun via the solar cells that they’re made of. Solar cells act as semiconductors and are made from monocrystalline silicon and boron. Silicon and boron are the elements that make them photovoltaic – giving them the ability to convert sunlight into electricity.

Within the silicon cell wafers, there is a negative charge and positive layer. The negative layer has extra electrons, or the element that conducts electricity, and the positive layer has space for the electrons to go.

When the sun’s photon energy hits the panel, the intense energy forces these electrons to move from the negative to the positive layer. This movement is what generates an electric field, and thus electricity.

This electricity needs somewhere to go to be usable. Cue the rest of the solar system, from the wiring to the solar inverter.

What do solar inverters do?

When solar modules generate electricity, it’s in the form of direct current or DC electricity. But the electricity your home uses is known as alternating current or AC electricity. To create usable electricity with solar panels, you need a solar inverter.

Solar inverters do a lot of the heavy lifting to ensure the solar system is working properly. Not only do solar inverters convert electricity, but they also communicate with and send excess energy to the grid.

In the event of an electrical power outage, solar panels must stop sending an electrical current to the grid. Sending live electricity to wires that people are working to fix is dangerous. A solar inverter stops the electricity from flowing during a power outage.

There are a few different types of inverters, such as string inverters, microinverters, or hybrid inverters – but your solar installer will help you choose the best one for your solar panel system.

Learn more: Dive into solar inverters.

Your solar inverter is in constant communication with the grid, sending energy to it or pulling energy from it when you require extra power. Working in tandem with the grid is key to how residential solar panels work.

Why is the grid important?

The electricity grid is a key component of most residential solar systems. Unless you’re off-grid, your home will remain connected to the grid to provide energy to utility companies, potentially benefit from net metering, and aid you in using the grid as a backup power source.

Net metering

Net metering is one of the best financial incentives for going solar. If your solar panels generate more energy than your home uses, that energy is sent to the grid and you are then compensated for that energy.

Alternatively, you can store that extra battery in a solar storage battery for use during emergencies, cloudy days, or nighttime use. If you do not want a solar battery for energy independence, it sometimes makes more financial sense to rely on the grid and net metering.

How can you make solar panels work for your home?

Solar technology has been around for many years, but may not be top of mind unless you’re considering switching to solar. For many, if a solar array is hooked up and working, then there is no reason to think about how solar panels work.

How solar photovoltaic panels work as an energy source is fascinating. There’s a lot going on when the sun hits the panels. Electrons are moving around within the photovoltaic cells to create DC electricity that your inverter then converts to AC renewable energy for your home.

This all happens quietly and out of view, unless something is wrong with your system. This is why we suggest homeowners use a local installer who is more likely to be around for the lifetime of your panels when they need to be serviced.

Written by: Adam C Grid Threats 6 Comments Print This Article

How to create a solar system

Solar Power When The Grid Goes Down

When most people think of emergency power, they usually think of gasoline, propane or diesel generators.

While generators make a lot of sense in an emergency situation, they do have some tactical downsides. First of all, most generators are relatively loud when they are running, and when coupled with a grid-down situation in which everything around happens to be very silent because the power’s out, you can see how being loud is a disadvantage. Essentially, everyone within a two-mile radius will hear your generator. Perhaps they will come inquiring as to why it is that you’re so well-prepared while they aren’t. Additionally, there is the problem of fueling that generator; you need to have adequate stores of gasoline, diesel or propane, and not only that, you need to have oil and filters to provide the necessary oil changes, which increase in frequency the more you run the generator.

Solar Power

Did you know, however, that you can devise a simple solar panel system for use during emergencies? It’s totally possible to set up a few panels in a freestanding system, coupled with a modest battery bank, so that you can generate at least some power during a grid-down situation. Although a handful of solar panels won’t generate the same amount of power as a large generator, they can still be used to power things like laptops, communications devices, and medical equipment so that you aren’t totally hung out to dry when the power goes off. Additionally, an emergency solar power system is totally silent, so no one will even know you have emergency power. Here’s how to build a simple system:

Select the size of solar panel you want to use

Since this is an emergency system, we aren’t talking about filling your roof with panels; what we are saying is to put together a system that uses between one and four 400 watt panels. The exact sizing of your system is beyond the scope of this article, because only you know what devices you absolutely need to power during an emergency, but sizing guides are available everywhere on line.

An Endless Supply Of Free Electricity From The Sun

Select an inverter

Solar panels put out DC voltage natively. DC voltage is essentially the same sort of voltage that you would get from a battery. What you want is to be able to put out AC voltage, so that you can power the devices in your home during an emergency — things like laptops, power tools or refrigeration. In order to do this, you will need an inverter. Inverters convert the DC voltage that solar panels produce into AC voltage that your home appliances can use. You’ll most definitely want a pure sine wave inverter, especially if you plan to power sensitive electronics such as computers and laptops with your emergency solar system. Pure sine wave inverters most closely replicate the kind of power you have coming out of your wall plug.

Select a battery bank

You don’t just want to generate solar power while the sun is still shining – you want to be able to store the solar energy you create for the nighttime, overcast or cloudy days. In order to store the solar energy, you’ll need an appropriately sized battery bank; this is comprised of special batteries that are sized according to how many panels you have. Most people think solar energy is only good in the daytime; they quickly forget that by using batteries, you can store and use that power 24/7.

Portable Solar Power You Can Depend On In Any Crisis

Wire the system for use

Since this is an emergency backup system, we aren’t planning on tying the solar panel’s energy output to your home’s wiring system for simplicity’s sake. What we recommend is to leave this system purely standalone. The way to do that is to purchase some wall plugs, and clearly mark them as solar only. So when you wire your system, you wire the output of the solar panel to its own, dedicated wall plug. This has a number of advantages. You can use the solar plug anytime you wish, even when not in an emergency, and anything you plug in there will be free power.

Looking to build an augmented reality (AR) solar system application? Use this solar system demo application created with Unity, AR Foundation, and echoAR. The full demo can also be found on echoAR’s GitHub.

How to create a solar system

If you don’t have an echoAR API key yet, make sure to register for FREE at echoAR.


  • Create a new Unity project.
  • Clone the Unity-ARFoundation-echoAR sample code.
  • Clone this repository for prefabs,scenes and custom scripts.
  • Follow the instructions on our documentation page to set your API key.
  • Set your echoAR API key in the echoAR prefab
  • Add the models from the models folder to the echoAR console
  • For each model, add the corresponding metadata from the metadata folder on the echoAR console
  • Overwrite the existing echoAR/CustomBehaviour.cs script with the new CustomBehaviour.cs file
  • Overwrite the existing echoAR/RemoteTransformation.cs script with the new RemoteTransformation.cs file

How to create a solar system
How to create a solar system
How to create a solar system


  • Touch Drag Button to enable dragging.
  • Touch on any planet to get information.

Learn more
Refer to our documentation to learn more about how to use Unity, AR Foundation, and echoAR.

Our Solar System has a little sister now called Atlas Rain 🙂 You can see some of the most interesting events in the history of Earth.
You can check it out on Chrome Web Store right here

We’ve added more than two hundred events so far and we’re adding more every day.

Please grab it and let us know what you think, we love to hear your feedback 🙂 Hope you enjoy it.

  • Video Tutorial
  • Creating your own tour
  • Calculations
  • Disclaimer
  • About


Changing visual effect

Hiding menus

Move the camera to a planet or moon

Move camera by some distance

Play Soundcloud track

Display Youtube video

Diaply Picasa photo

Submitting tour

The following formulas are used to calculate the position of each planet. Certain assumptions are made and therefore the positions are only approximations.

First the mean anomoly is calculated:

,where M is the mean anomoly and Tp and longitude of perihelion are constants.

Then the heliocentric longitude is calculated:

,where v is the true anomoly. However, by assuming that eccentricity is 0 (the orbit of the planet is a perfect circle), the true anomoly becomes the mean anomoly (M).

So now, since the radius of the orbit of the planets is given, and we also have the heliocentric longitude, we can calculate the coordinate of the planet in the solar system using simple trigonometry:
X coordinate = orbital radius * cos(heliocentric longitude)
Y coordinate = orbital radius * sin(heliocentric longitude)

For more information and to find out how to get a better approximation please refer to the following book:
Practical astronomy with your calculator By Peter Duffett-Smith

  • Great care has been taken to make sure the position of the planets and their orientation (especially that of the Earth’s) as well as the information about the planets are accurate, however, the author of this application is not responsible for the accuracy of this information.
  • The information about the planets are taken from the website.
  • The method for calculating the position of the planets is taken from the book Practical astronomy with your calculator By Peter Duffett-Smith [page 103].
  • The texture of the planets are taken from
  • This application uses the excellent and min.Three.js frameworks.
  • The author’s website:

This is a 3D solar system simulation application, which gives you the approximate location of the planets in the solar system at different time, and some information about each one of them. This application uses HTML5 and WebGL.

  • Fixed a some small bug which caused a box to show up in the middle of the screen.
  • Fixed some small bugs.
  • Re-arranged the ads and created just one ad instead of two to make it less intrusive.
  • NASA’s Solar System News is added and the top menues are cleaned up a bit.
  • Added new navigation controls.
  • Added statistics to the application.
  • Fixed a bug which prevented tours to be submitted.
  • Made the tour window slightly smaller to avoid interference with the AD and the navigation.
  • Added capability to click on the planets to go to them.
  • Added lens fare effect by upgrading to the latest version of min.Three.js.
  • Fixed small issues with Saturn and Uranus rings.
  • Fixed a problem that happened in the new version of Chrome. The bug caused the screen to be black.
  • Now everyone can create tours.
  • Added the main infrastructure for the tour system and added the single Solar System Tour.
  • Added Asteroid Belt and multi-language support.
  • A “Shaders” option has been added in the “Settings” mene. Users who don’t see the three inner planets can disable the shaders to view those planets.
  • Reducing the height of the Help panel slightly so that it fits better for some users who can’t see the entire panel.
  • The Moon has been added (with approximately correct position).
  • City lights texture is added to Earth.
  • Earth atmosphere has been added.
  • A bug that caused the camera to jump when zooming out of a planet is fixed.
  • The initial release.

Download a poster of this animation!

8.5 x 11 inches

8.5 x 13 inches

11 x 17 inches

Click here to read a transcript of this story

The solar system is a pretty busy place. It’s got all kinds of planets, moons, asteroids, and comets zipping around our Sun.

But how did this busy stellar neighborhood come to be?

Our story starts about 4.6 billion years ago, with a wispy cloud of stellar dust.

This cloud was part of a bigger cloud called a nebula.

At some point, the cloud collapsed—possibly because the shockwave of a nearby exploding star caused it to compress.

When it collapsed, it fell in on itself, creating a disk of material surrounding it.

Finally the pressure caused by the material was so great that hydrogen atoms began to fuse into helium, releasing a tremendous amount of energy. Our Sun was born!

Even though the Sun gobbled up more than 99% of all the stuff in this disk, there was still some material left over.

Bits of this material clumped together because of gravity. Big objects collided with bigger objects, forming still bigger objects. Finally some of these objects became big enough to be spheres—these spheres became planets and dwarf planets.

Rocky planets, like Earth, formed near the Sun, because icy and gaseous material couldn’t survive close to all that heat.

Gas and icy stuff collected further away, creating the gas and ice giants.

And like that, the solar system as we know it today was formed.

There are still leftover remains of the early days though.

Asteroids in the asteroid belt are the bits and pieces of the early solar system that could never quite form a planet.

Way off in the outer reaches of the solar system are comets. These icy bits haven’t changed much at all since the solar systems formation.

In fact, it is the study of asteroids and comets that allows scientists to piece together this whole long story.

Quick and fun movies that answer big science questions!

Have you ever looked at the solar panels on roofs and wondered exactly what they do, and how? Well, those hi-tech expanses of shimmering glass are actually just one component in a complex network that harnesses the sun’s renewable energy to deliver electricity to the home within.

Let’s take a simple, step-by-step look at how solar power works.

How Do Solar Panels Make Electricity?

STEP 1: Sunlight activates the panels.

How to create a solar system
A rack-and-panel solar system

Each individual panel is constructed of a layer of silicon cells, a metal frame, a glass casing surrounded by a special film, and wiring. For maximum effect, the panels are grouped together into “arrays” (an ordered series) and placed on rooftops or in large outdoor spaces. The solar cells, which are also referred to as photovoltaic cells, absorb sunlight during daylight hours.

STEP 2: The cells produce electrical current.

How to create a solar system
A silicon ingot and wafer

Within each solar cell is a thin semiconductor wafer made from two layers of silicon. One layer is positively charged, and the other negatively charged, forming an electric field. When light energy from the sun strikes a photovoltaic solar cell, it energizes the cell and causes electrons to ‘come loose’ from atoms within the semiconductor wafer. Those loose electrons are set into motion by the electric field surrounding the wafer, and this motion creates an electrical current.

STEP 3: The electrical energy is converted.

How to create a solar system
A solar inverter. Image provided by SMA Solar Technology AG

You now have solar panels working efficiently to transform sunlight into electricity, but the electricity generated is called direct current (or DC) electricity, which is not the type of electricity that powers most homes, which is alternating current (or AC) electricity. Fortunately, DC electricity can easily be changed into AC electricity by a gadget called an inverter. In modern solar systems, these inverters can be configured as one inverter for the entire system or as individual microinverters attached behind the panels.

STEP 4: The converted electricity powers your home.

How to create a solar system
A solar microinverter

Once the solar energy has been converted from DC to AC electricity, it runs through your electrical panel and is distributed within the home to power your appliances. It works exactly the same way as the electrical power generated through the grid by your electric utility company, so nothing within the home needs to change. Since you still remain connected to your traditional power company, you can automatically draw additional electricity to supplement any solar shortages from the grid.

STEP 5: A net meter measures usage.

How to create a solar system
A smart electric meter

On cloudy days and overnight, your solar shingles or panels may not be able to capture enough sunlight to use for energy; conversely, in the middle of the day when nobody is home, they may collect surplus energy—more than you need to operate your home. That’s why a meter is used to measure the electricity flowing in both directions—to and from your home.Your utility company will often provide credits for any surplus power you send back to the grid. This is known as net metering.


Now that you know the basics about solar energy, you can marvel at how today’s photovoltaic technology can capture the vast power of the sun to operate a home. It may not be rocket science—but it definitely is human ingenuity at its best.

Interested in solar roofing for your home? Explore our solar products or find a credentialed solar installer in your area.

Author – Alycia Gordan

Clean energy is gaining ground rapidly just when greenhouse gases and carbon emissions are immensely hurting our ecosystem. Worldwide, two-thirds of solar power capacity have been installed since 2011. Fortunately, India has kept pace with the rapid development of clean solar power. Reports indicate that solar power generation in India increased by a whopping 86% in 2017.

It is now ideal to use solar power not only in commercial units but also for residential ones. The costs of installing a solar power unit have steadily dropped, but you can always try the DIY option to keep it within your budget. You can save money by setting up a solar with solar photo-voltaic (PV) system yourself by reading this simple guide to set up solar power. Here is an in-depth look at how you can build and install a solar power unit for your home:

Step-by-step guide to set up solar power unit

How to create a solar system

Step 1: Gather solar power components

It all begins with gathering the basic ingredients of a solar power unit. You will need four major items – solar panels, charge controller, inverter, and a battery pack. In addition to these items, you will require a breaker, meter, MC4 connector, and fuses among other things. Keep in mind that it is essential to read the solar panel module instructions.

Step 2: Calculate your power load

How to create a solar system

Before getting to the solar installation task, it is crucial to sum up the power that you use at your home. This isn’t rocket science. All you have to do is to note down the home appliances that you use on a daily basis, which include television, lights, fan, and so on. Next, add the time for which these appliances run in a day. Go through the specification chart in your household electric appliances to check their usage duration or run time, and their power rating.

Now calculate the ‘Watt-Hour’ by multiplying the runtime of an appliance with its power rating. Follow this step for each electrical device, then sum up the individual watt-hour numbers to get the grand total. You can also simplify this calculation by using an online off-grid load calculator.

Step 3: Select and charge the battery

How to create a solar system

A major hiccup with solar power is that it doesn’t provide electricity when the sun goes down. However, you can easily crack this problem by using a battery. A lead-acid or a lithium-ion battery stores solar power generated during the daytime and discharges it at night. This provides a steady supply of energy, provided you have selected the optimum battery storage capacity. You will need a power controller to monitor your battery’s charging. These come between the panels and the battery. Such controllers are typically fitted with a small LED light that announces the charging state of the battery, and it adjusts the power that flows into the battery.

Step 4: Set up the inverter

How to create a solar system

Solar arrays produce electricity in direct current (DC), but electrical appliances use power in the form of alternating current (AC). Inverter is a device that saves the day by allowing you to use electrical devices without using adaptors. Inverters come in varying power wattages and types including square wave, modified sine-wave, and pure sine-wave inverters. Square waves are not compatible for all devices, while the output of modified sine wave is not suitable for certain appliances such as a fridge. This makes a pure sine wave inverter the best choice for your solar system.

Step 5: Fix the solar panels on your roof

How to create a solar system

Once the battery, controller, and inverters are ready, you need to get started with mounting the solar panels. Select the best spot for the panels on the roof or on open ground that receives an unhindered supply of the sun’s radiation. You can either make a mounting stand yourself or get it from the market. The tilt of the mounting stand should almost be equal to the latitude angle of your location. The proper setting of the solar panels is critical for their operation & maintenance. Hence, it is essential to ensure that the panels face the sun throughout the day.

In the last phase of this step, wire the solar panels. You can trace a small junction box at the back of the solar panel. The junction box has negative and positive signs of polarity. In a large sized-panel, the junction box has terminal wires too with an MC4 connector. However, you will have to align the junction box with external wires yourself if you use small solar panels. Use the black and red wire for negative and positive terminal connections, respectively.

Step 6: Connect the solar panels with battery

You need to connect the solar panels with the battery. In certain PV systems, these come paired together, so you don’t have to put in the additional effort. In cases that are not given as a single unit, you need to make series and parallel connections. You can make a series connection by connecting a device’s positive terminal with another device’s negative terminal. For a parallel connection, you need to connect one device’s negative terminal with another device’s negative terminal and so on.

Step 7: Setup stands for inverter and battery

How to create a solar system

Your residential solar unit is incomplete without stands for the battery and inverter. Again, you have the option of building the stands or getting them. Once the allocated positions for the inverter and battery are ready, you can start working on the wiring. Start with wiring the controller. The first connection from the left is for connecting the controller with the solar panels. The second connection is for pairing the battery with the controller. The last connection is for connecting the controller to the direct DC load connection.

For connecting the solar panel with the charge controller, you will need a separate connector called an MC4 connector. Once the controller is connected to the battery, its LED lights should light up. Similarly, you will have to connect the inverter terminal with the battery’s terminal.

Following these steps can guide you to set up a solar power unit at your home. The high costs incurred in installing one can be reaped later on as solar energy is not only clean but also a cost-effective investment.

Author Bio

Alycia Gordan is a tech junkie and a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare, technology, fitness and lifestyle. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia

DIY Information website. Search anything about DIY Information & Wallpaper in this website.

Diy Solar System Projects. This working model can be made from different materials. This project is mainly used to improve pv generation system performance.

How to create a solar systemEzras 3rd Grade Solar System Project – Craftideaorg – Craftideaorg Solar System Projects Solar System Projects For Kids Solar System Crafts from

Today, solar kits that allow you to directly tie into the public utility grid. Here are the major cons to a diy solar project: From solar system visualizations made with duct tape to spectacular sundials, each of these projects introduces kids to space in a fun.

We used a long box, paint, styrofoam planets, hot glue, crazy glue, black jewelry wire, battery operated lights from michael’s, scrapbook labels from michael’s.

Diy solar system project for 3rd grade. 3 how to get cheap solar power: Diy solar heated garden bed. 7 how to build a solar food dehydrator.

Space the planets according their distance to the sun and attach labels.

Paper mache planets from at home with ali.

The project solar tracking system is mainly designed with a microcontroller.

Simple solar system mobile craft made from recycled circular foams, yarn and foam balls in assorted sizes.

The proposed system like a water pump system using solar energy is used to provide water supply for the irrigation systems.

Paper mache planets from at home with ali.

Take nine different colorful play dough.

Making a solar system mobile is a great activity for when you’re learning about the solar system.

Age 7 to 16
Challenge Level

The following downloadable sheets may be useful:

Can you make a model of the solar system, so that both the sizes of the planets and their distances from each other and the Sun are all to scale?

This is not a straightforward problem, since although the planets are very big, their diameters are much, much smaller than the distances between them and the Sun.

How to create a solar system

Getting started

Collect the following resources:

  • a toilet roll (unused and complete!) for each group of students
  • a large blow-up ball (the bigger the better, to represent the Sun)
  • a range of spherical (or nearly spherical) objects, ranging in size from a mustard seed up to small to medium-sized balls
  • a large space – big enough to take an unrolled toilet roll, preferably indoors, since even a very slight breeze will move the toilet roll and small objects on it

The unrolled toilet roll will represent the distance from the sun – to be placed at one end – to the outermost planet.

Hint: Pluto is now classified as a dwarf planet rather than a planet. If you include it, you increase the distance you need to work with from 4,500 million km to 5,900 million km. It is probably best not to include it!

Scaling the distances in the solar system

How to create a solar system

Use this table to help you decide how you are going to make your model. You could:

  • make each piece of toilet paper a particular distance, say, 20 million km
  • divide the total distance between the Sun and Neptune by the number of pieces in your toilet roll
  • divide the total distance between the Sun and Neptune by the length of the toilet roll

Or you may have your own ideas about how you want to scale your model.

Mark where each planet will go on the toilet roll.

Scaling the planets

Using the data in the table, start by putting the planets in order of size. Then pick objects to represent each planet.

Put the objects in the right places on the toilet roll.

  • Which is the biggest planet?
  • Which is the smallest?
  • Which planets are closest together?
  • Which are furthest apart?

Improving your model

If you wanted to use the same scale as you used for your toilet roll solar system to make models of the planets, how big would the biggest planet be? How big would the smallest be? Is this a practical scale for a model solar system?

If you made the smallest planet so that it had a diameter of 1cm, how big would the distance from the sun to Neptune need to be? How about if you represented the smallest planet with a mustard seed?

If you can, decide on a scale which will allow you to represent both the distances and the diameters of the planets. Find a long enough roll of paper (perhaps two or more toilet rolls stuck together), then either find suitable objects for each of the planets, or make them from modelling clay, papier mache, or similar.

If there isn’t room to do this, you will need to agree that your planets and distances have to have a different scale. So how will you scale the size of your planets?

If you make your own planets, find out what colour they appear to be, and paint them.

Working with your model

Make a colourful poster for each planet: more information about the planets.

You could include things like:

  • how far it is from the Sun
  • its diameter
  • its mass
  • any unusual features
  • the number of moons, and their names if there aren’t very many
  • whether it is a rocky planet or a gas giant
  • if it has an atmosphere, what is it made of
  • how long its ‘year’ and its ‘day’ are
  • its lowest and highest surface temperatures, and whether one side is always shielded from the Sun or not
  • some calculations:
    • how strong is its gravity, how high could you jump
    • how fast would a rocket have to go to escape from its gravitational pull
    • how long would it take an email to get from Earth to the planet
    • how long it would take a rocket to get from Earth to the planet
  • the problems humans have have to overcome if they were ever to establish a colony on the planet

Or you may have other things you want to find out about the planets which you could include.

With thanks to the ‘Don’t Try This At Home’ Club Fowlmere Primary School, Cambridgeshire for letting us visit them and take photos.

Unit: Earth and Space Science – Year of the Solar System

Grade Levels: 7-9

Connection To Curriculum: Science, Mathematics and Technology

Teacher Prep Time: 3 hours

Lesson Time Needed: 3 hours

Complexity Moderate

Keywords: planet sizes, planet comparisons, Earth vs. Mars, models, science process, scale, orbits, solar system, sun, sizes


This lesson allows students to visualize the comparative sizes and distances of solar system bodies by making solar system objects to scale using common objects, walking off the distances between planets and participating in a Web-based Sun/Earth scale model activity.

Students will:
• Demonstrate the size of the sun and the bodies of the solar system on the ten-billionth scale.
• Construct and walk the distances between the bodies of the solar system on the ten-billionth scale.
• Compare the temperature, diameter and distance to the sun with familiar things on Earth.

How to create a solar system

Lesson Activities and Sequence

  1. Exploring Planet Sizes
    This activity looks at the sizes of the planets and takes place in the classroom. Students predict the size of Earth and Jupiter and find foods (like cereal, gum balls, etc.) that are about the size of each planet.
    Keywords: planet sizes, comparisons, Earth as a peppercorn, edible
  2. Walking Planet Distances
    This activity requires the class to go outside to walk the distances between the planets.
    Keywords: planets, scale models, distances, modeling, orbits, sizes
  3. Solar Pizza
    Students compare the temperature, diameter and distance to the sun with familiar things on Earth.
    Keywords: planets, sizes, planet temperatures, sun, comparing planets, distances in space

National Science Education Standards, NSTA
Earth and Space Science
• Earth in the solar system.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, NCTM
Ratios and Proportional Relationships
• Understand ratio concepts and use ratio reasoning to solve problems.

ISTE NETS and Performance Indicators for Students, ISTE
Creativity and Innovation
• Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues.

Research and Information Fluency
• Process data and report results.

Technology Operations and Concepts
• Understand and use technology systems.

Classroom Activity for 11-14

What the Activity is for

Using fruit to make a memorable model.

Here you construct a model of the solar system to show the relative size of the planets, the distance of each planet from the Sun and the spacing between the planets.

You can remind pupils that scientists frequently build models if the objects they are studying are either unimaginably large or too small to see.

What to Prepare

  • an out-of-doors space at least 11 m long
  • a 15 metre tape measure

The following pieces of fruit:

  • 2 cherries or 2 small Brussels sprouts
  • (1 slightly larger than the other – Mars is the larger one)
  • 2 plums or 2 apricots
  • 1 water melon or pumpkin
  • 1 coconut or swede
  • 1 apple
  • 1 orange
  • A copy of the support sheet (see below)

What Happens During this Activity

Nine pupils should make cards showing which planet they represent with lettering that will be visible from 10 m away when a photograph is taken.

Take the class outside.

Draw out a line and place the nine pupils to show where each planet is on the line. The pupils hold the fruit and the planet name so that everyone can see them.

Teacher Tip: In these modelling activities it is important to be aware that the scale for the size of the planets is not the same scale as that used for the distance between them (although both the relative sizes and relative distances are to scale).


Download the support sheet / student worksheet for this activity.

I have a model that works, as far as I know, but it’s so messy! I am very new to Java, so I’d really appreciate some help tidying up. In particular, a lot of my constructors are empty which is probably not good, and I’m not sure if I’ve made the right choices in terms of public, static, void etc for my methods. It probably doesn’t follow best practices.

SolarSim (Main):

Particle :

GravField :

2 Answers 2

After reading the program, I think it is pretty good for start, but there is some room for further improvement.


Consider importing specific classes, instead of using the wildcard import, so that your namespace is not cluttered up. (Although there are also benefits in importing the whole package, see this SO question).

Double constants

Instead of using Math.pow, like this:

Numbers can be written in scientific notation, as follows:

Empty else blocks

In general, it is best to avoid empty else blocks, like this one:

Instead, the else-block can just be omitted:


The parameters in the documentation should match the parameters of the method.

So, in the above case, you should write “mass” and “radius” into the javadoc, instead of planetMass and planetRadius. Also, it would be nice to describe what “initialPos” means.

Particle.initialPosition, Particle.initialVelocity, Particle.centreOfMass and Particle.cOMV are used only within Particle, thus they can be made private, instead of default (package-private) access.

The methods updatePosition, updateVelocity, centreOfMass and cOMVel cannot be made static, since they refer to the above mentioned member variables. (The other possibility would be to make those variables static as well, though I’m not sure if that would not break the logic of the program.)

Empty body for constructors

As you wrote yourself, this is not a good practice 🙂 In short, those constructors do almost nothing.

By calling public Particle(double mass, PhysicsVector x, PhysicsVector y), Particle.mass, Particle.initialPosition and Particle.initialVelocity are not set (they have the same value they received during initialisation). Probably, you should do something like this in the constructor:

Although, it is not clear to me, what x and y mean in this context, so the actual code needed in your application could be different. Also note, that you need to prefix “mass” with “this”, if you are accessing the member variable, to differentiate it from the constructor parameter with the same name.

The constructor public GravField(double mass, double radius, PhysicsVector initialPos) also does not do anything more than the default constructor, as it is now. Probably, it should look similar as follows:

Note, that currently both constructors are being used, but they end up constructing three similar objects in each case (i.e., all with the default mass, radius, etc., instead of the parameters that you provide to them).

Default constructor

If you are not planning to use the default constructor (i.e. the one without any parameters), you do not need to provide one for the class. I.e., the following constructors are not really needed and can be removed:

Utility methods

I would suggest to move the methods SolarSim.copyArray, SolarSim.sumArray, SolarSim.add and SolarSim.subtract to a separate class (e.g. a new class called PhysicsVectorUtils, or even PhysicsVector itself, if you have access to its code), because they do not really belong to the logic of SolarSim. Also, in this way, Particle does not need to depend on SolarSim, in order to call sumArray.

main method

This method is very long, and difficult to follow. I suggest splitting up the steps into smaller methods. Besides, the local variables of this method, could be instead instance variable of SolarSim. You should end up with something like this:

You could take the first part further, and call the methods not dependent on user input (file opening, initialisation of variables, fields, velocities etc.) from the constructor of SolarSim. (Beware, I’m not suggesting to put all the initialisation code into the constructor, because in this way the constructor would become very long. Just call those methods from within the constructor.)

The output file could be an argument of the program. I.e., you would invoke the program like this:

The path to the file can be read from args[0] in this case (i.e., from the args parameter of main).

Also the number of steps (which is currently constant 1000), could be a parameter of the simulation.

How to create a solar system

With high energy costs and a warming planet that needs cleaner fuel sources, the time has never been better to get involved with solar energy. DIY Solar Projects (Creative Publishing International, 2011) by Eric Smith contains how-to instructions for many achievable, clever projects you can make and install in order to create your own solar lifestyle. Hundreds of people are doing it, and you can too. The following excerpt is taken from the chapter, “Solar Still.”

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: DIY Solar Projects.

Make Your Own Distilled Water

Make your own distilled water from stream or lake water, salt water, or even brackish, dirty water, using these DIY Solar Still Plans. With just a few basic building materials, a sheet of glass and some sunshine, you can purify your own water at no cost and with minimal effort.

Distilled water is not just for drinking, and it’s always worth keeping a few gallons of it on hand. Clean water free of chemicals and minerals has a number of valuable uses:

• Always refill the lead-acid batteries used for solar energy systems or automobiles with distilled water

• Water delicate plants like orchids with distilled water; minerals and additives like fluoride or chlorine that are present in most tap water can harm plants

• Distilled water mixed with antifreeze is recommended for car radiators, as it’s less corrosive

• Steam irons become clogged with mineral deposits unless you use distilled water

The principle of using the sun’s heat to separate water from dissolved minerals has been understood for millennia, salt ponds being the best example of how this knowledge has been put to use in the past. In salt ponds, seawater is drained into shallow ponds and then baked and purified in the sun until all that remains are crystals of salt. In this case, the pure water that gradually evaporated away was considered a useless byproduct, but as far back as the time of the ancient Greeks it was known that seawater could be made fresh and drinkable by this process.

A solar still works like a salt evaporation pond, except that the water that invisibly evaporates is extracted from the air; the minerals and other impurities are left behind and discarded. As the hot, moisture-laden air rises up to the slanting sheet of relatively cool glass sealed to the box, water condenses out in the form of small droplets that cling to the glass. As these droplets get heavier, they roll down the glass to the collector tube at the bottom and then out to the jug.

The box is built from 3/4 ” BC-grade plywood, painted black on the inside to absorb heat. We used a double layer of plywood on the sides to resist warping and to help insulate the box, with an insulated door at the back and a sheet of glass on top.

Finding a good lining or container to hold the water in the inside of the box as it heats and evaporates can be complicated. The combination of high heat and water containing salt or other contaminents can corrode metals faster than usual and cause plastic containers to break down or offgas, imparting an unpleasant taste to the distilled water. The best liners are glass or stainless steel, although you can also coat the inside of the box with two or three coats of black silicone caulk (look for an F.D.A.-listed type approved for use around food). Spread the caulk around the bottom and sides with a taping knife. After it dries and cures thoroughly, just pour water in—the silicone is impervious to the heat and water.

How to Make a Solar Still

We chose to paint the inside black and use two large glass baking pans to hold the water. Glass baking pans are a safe, inexpensive container for dirty or salty water, and they can easily be removed for cleaning. We used two 10 x 15″ pans, which hold up to 8 quarts of water when full. To increase the capacity of the still, just increase the size of the wooden box and add more pans.

The operation of the distiller is simple. As the temperature inside the box rises, water in the pans heats up and evaporates, rising up to the angled glass, where it slowly runs down to the collector tube and then out to a container.

The runoff tube is made from 1″ PEX tubing. Stainless steel can also be used. However, use caution with other materials—if in doubt, boil a piece of the material in tap water for 10 minutes, then taste the water after it cools to see if it added any flavor. If it did, don’t use it.

Turn undrinkable water into pure, crystal-clear distilled water with a home-built solar still.

View step-by-step photos of how to make a solar still in the Image Gallery as well as this PDF of the DIY Solar Still Plans.

1. Mark and cut the plywood pieces according to the cutting list. Cut the angled end pieces with a circular saw or tablesaw set to a 9 degree angle.

2. Cut the insulation the same size as the plywood base, then screw both to the 2 x 4 supports with 2 1/2″ screws.

3. Screw the first layer of front and side pieces to the base and to each other, then add the back piece. Predrill the screws with a countersink bit.

4. Glue and screw the remaining front and side pieces on, using clamps to hold them together as you predrill and screw. Use 1 1/4″ screws to laminate the pieces together and 2″ screws to join the corners.

5. Glue and screw the hinged door pieces together, aligning the bottom and side edges, then set the door in position and screw on the hinges. Add a pull or knob at the center.

6. Paint the inside of the box with black high-temperature paint. Cover the back and the door with reflective foil glued with contact cement. Let the paint dry for several days so that all the solvents evaporate off.

7. Apply weatherseal around the edges of the hinged door to make the door airtight.

8. Drill a hole for the PEX drain. The top of the PEX is 1/2″ down from the top edge. Clamp a scrap piece to the inside so the drill bit doesn’t splinter the wood when it goes through.

9. Mark the first 19″ of PEX, then cut it in half with a utility knife. Score it lightly at first to establish the cut lines.

10. Drill three 1/8″ holes in the side of the PEX for screws, then insert the PEX through the hole. Butt it tight against the other side, then screw it in place, sloping it about 1/4″.

11. Wipe a thick bead of silicone caulk along the top edge of the PEX to seal it against the plywood.

12. Shim the box level and tack a temporary stop to the top edge to make it easy to place the glass without smearing the caulk. Spread a generous bead of caulk on all the edges, then lay the glass in place. Tape it down around the edges with painter’s tape, then let it set up overnight.

This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from DIY Solar Projects, published by Creative Publishing International, 2011.

How to create a solar systemGenerally, solar panels are stationary and do not follow the movement of the sun. Here is a solar tracker system that tracks the sun’s movement across the sky and tries to maintain the solar panel perpendicular to the sun’s rays, ensuring that the maximum amount of sunlight is incident on the panel throughout the day. The solar tracking system starts following the sun right from dawn, throughout the day till evening, and starts all over again from the dawn next day.

Solar tracking system circuit

Fig. 1 shows the circuit of the solar tracking system. The solar tracker comprises comparator IC LM339, H-bridge motor driver IC L293D (IC2) and a few discrete components. Light-dependent resistors LDR1 through LDR4 are used as sensors to detect the panel’s position relative to the sun. These provide the signal to motor driver IC2 to move the solar panel in the sun’s direction. LDR1 and LDR2 are fixed at the edges of the solar panel along the X axis, and connected to comparators A1 and A2, respectively. Presets VR1 and VR2 are set to get low comparator output at pins 2 and 1 of comparators A1 and A2, respectively, so as to stop motor M1 when the sun’s rays are perpendicular to the solar panel.

Circuit operation

When LDR2 receives more light than LDR1, it offers lower resistance than LDR1, providing a high input to comparators A1 and A2 at pins 4 and 7, respectively. As a result, output pin 1 of comparator A2 goes high to rotate motor M1 in one direction (say, anti-clockwise) and turn the solar panel.

When LDR1 receives more light than LDR2, it offers lower resistance than LDR2, giving a low input to comparators A1 and A2 at pins 4 and 7, respectively. As the voltage at pin 5 of comparator A1 is now higher than the voltage at its pin 4, its output pin 2 goes high. As a result, motor M1 rotates in the opposite direction (say, clock-wise) and the solar panel turns.

Similarly, LDR3 and LDR4 track the sun along Y axis. Fig. 2 shows the proposed assembly for the solar tracking system.

Can you really build a DIY solar system from scratch? Nothing is impossible, if you are willing to do the work, you can definitely setup a home solar power system.

How much would a residential solar energy system cost? If you were to engage the service of a profession solar contractor, the investment can be quite high.

A complete solar system capable of supply free energy for your home can cost upwards of $30,000 – $45,000. The Return On Investment (ROI) can take as long as 10 – 15 years! It is fair to say not a lot of home owners can afford this option.

If you are planning to setup the solar system from scratch on your own, the investment cost is definitely lower. A medium size system capable of generating free electricity for your home would cost around $1000 – $1500.

There are only a couple of key components that you’ll need for a homemade solar energy system. The components are:

1) Photovoltaic (PV) panels

The PV panels will be the heart of the system. Solar panels are used to harness the sun’s energy and convert it into electric current. This is possible due to a special semi conductive material known as Photovoltaic cells. The electrons in the PV cells will become excited when exposed to solar energy. The potential energy in the electron are used to create an electric current.

2) Charge controller

The function of the charge controller is to take the electric current from the solar panels and use it to charge a battery bank. The charge controller will also regulate the amount of current going into the battery hence protecting it from overcharging.

3) Voltage meter & amperage meter

The volt and amp meter are measuring devices used to check the state of your home solar power system. The meters will tell you how much voltage and current flow are created by the solar array.

4) Deep cycle batteries

This will be the battery bank used to store the energy generated by the solar panels. The kind of battery most suitable for a residential solar system is the deep cycle type. Deep cycle batteries are commonly used on boats and electric golf carts. They are more durable and can be discharged to a very low stage without damaging itself. The battery also releases its stored power slowly making it most suitable for home use.

5) Power inverter

Since the energy stored in the battery is Direct Current (DC), you will need a device to change the DC to Alternate Current (AC). Most of the electrical devices at home will be running on AC. The function of the power inverter is to change the DC to AC. The final stage is to connect a power extension cable from the inverter throughout your house.

Generally, the components above are what you’ll need to make a DIY solar system from scratch . All these components are available from major hardware stores nationwide.

DIY Solar Panel Guide

How to create a solar system

If you are working on a shoestring budget, you can actually save some money by making the solar panels on your own. What you have to do is source for used solar cells and solder them together in a solar box. This will save you an additional $150 – $200.

To make your own DIY solar panel, what you’ll need is a good step by step instructional blueprint. One of the best solar panel blueprints that I know of is the GreenDIYEnergy guide. The guide comes with plans in PDF file and step by step High Definition (HD) instructional videos. For more information, check out the GreenDIYEnergy review on this blog.

Build a Better Bundle

The solar energy system that Ursa Major Solar sells has over a dozen different products, and unfortunately newer sales reps don’t always remember to include every part. As a CPQ admin, you know that a bundle would be a perfect solution for this issue.

You ask the sales team at Ursa Major Solar to describe a little about how the parts relate to each other, and that helps you learn how the bundle should work.

  • The Solar Controller Hub product is the heart of the solar energy bundle, and it is always part of the package. Adding it to a quote automatically brings the other parts along with it as a bundle. Sales reps can customize the bundle immediately after selecting it, and they can also reconfigure it at a later time.
  • The Solar Panel 400W product is always part of the bundle. Sales reps can change the quantity, but each system must have at least five panels.
  • The Angled Roof Mounting Kit, Flat Roof Mounting Kit, and Ground Mounting Kit products are offered in any combination, together or separate. Each should have a set quantity of one that cannot be edited. The Angled Roof Mounting Kit is the most popular, so it’s a preselected part of the bundle.
  • The Inverter product is the most popular inverter option, so it’s preselected. It’s only ever sold as a single unit.
  • The Microinverter product is another type of inverter, but like the Solar Panel 400W, it’s never sold in quantities less than five.
  • The Grid Disconnect Switch and Solar Disconnect Switch products are always part of the bundle for safety reasons, and the bundle must include only one of each.
  • The Wiring Kit product is always part of the bundle and must be sold as a single unit.
  • The Charge Controller product is an optional add-on for the bundle, but if selected it must be sold as a single unit.
  • The 5kWh Battery and 10kWh Battery products are optional add-ons with no limit to quantity.

You begin forming a picture of the bundle in your mind’s eye, and it looks something like this:

How to create a solar system

Strategy and Guidance

Here, you can find links to strategy and guidance to help if you find yourself in a rut. Use them sparingly, if at all!

Indie Videogames

Create planets for building your own unique solar system!

Make your Solar System is a casual gravity simulation game (N-body simulator) where you create planets and stars for generating stable solar systems (or just crashing stuff for fun, is up to you!).

How to create a solar systemA not so stable solar system…

Several Game Modes

  • Sandbox: You can train or experiment with all maps, without any goal more than create the solar system of your dreams and the pleasure of watching the space dance.
  • Time Attack: Your planets will score higher if they have a high mass, but if they are very massive and close, the system will become unstable, and planets crashing or lost into far space will substract points. Will you score higher than your friends?
  • Destroyer: Do you want destruction? Here the goal is to destroy the specified objects in the minimum possible time. Be the fastest planet shooter!
  • Supernova: An unstable hypergiant blue star is about to explode as supernova. And some planets are trying to impact against it! Bad news for the star. Avoid impacts and resist as much as possible!

How to create a solar systemA supernova, orbited a moment ago by a red dwarf.

Fast and Complete Object Creation Controls

When playing, in order to create a new object, just select its mass with the slider at the left and then “drag and drop it” (kind of) in the space. Where you touched it will appear, the direction will depend on where you released the finger, and the speed will depend on how far is from where you touched the screen. Althought at first is not very intuitive, after some attempts you will master it.
As a tip: when you want a circular orbit, the initial direction has to go perpendicular to the line that joins where you touched and the object you want to orbit (as it would be the direction the object would have when orbiting at that point).

How to create a solar systemA brown dwarf orbited by a rocky planet.

Usually, in some gravity simulators, you have to specify numerically the initial speed, or have to select from a preset of masses. In MYSS you have different masses if the slider is a little up or down even if in both cases says “Jupiter”, for example. The words are used for reference: selection is analogic.
Also, you can create the objects anywhere you want, with the initial speed you want (as long as your finger doesn’t go out your screen 😛 ). This combination of analog selections for the triplet mass, position, speed joined with the fast “touch, drag, release” creation system brings the player the best of a precise simulation and a casual game without the complexity of millions of options.

About the camera, you can use the slider to zoom (pinching also works) and you can track individual objects or the barycenter, represented by an “X”. You can drag the screen for free movement, too.
While you are tracking an object, lets say a planet orbiting a star, you can zoom it in and create moons around it. Just select again the object creation, choose a lower mass and do it as if the planet was not orbiting anything: all creations are relative to the speed of the camera.

How to create a solar systemA blue giant orbited by a red dwarf orbited by a planet.

Leaderboards and achievements

There is a leaderboard per map! So you will see your position and score against thousands of people playing.

There is also a bunch of achievements, some of them easy, some of them related to achieve weird objects.

How to create a solar systemA triple system of neutron stars with a couple of planets. Here the barycenter is selected.

Save and share

Proud of your creation? You can save all the solar systems you want and play them in Sandbox mode. If you want to show your creation to your friends, just pause the game and select share. You can find some creations from some players in Twitter, with the hashtag #MakeYourSolarSystem.

Free in Google Play

Make Your Solar System is free to download with no limitations or in app purchases.
Have fun!

To most of us, solar power still seems like a thing of the future. Yeah, we know some people live off the grid with them, and some folks can afford to line their roofs and heat their pools with them. Not most of us.

But it turns out that you can generate real, usable solar power in your very own home (or wherever), and it’ll cost you less than $300. What’s the catch? Oh, nothing. You just have to build the generator yourself.

And however am I supposed to do that, you might ask? Well, by following this handy 8 step guide from, of course.

Get ready for solar power.

Building Your Very Own Solar Power Generator in 8 Easy Steps

1. Buy Yourself a Small Solar Panel

For about $100 you should be able to get one rated at 12 volts or better (look for 16 volts) at an RV or marine supplies store or from Greenbatteries Store.

2. Buy Yourself a Battery

We recommend rechargeable batteries from these green companies: Greenbatteries Store and Get any size deep cycle 12 volt lead/acid or gel battery. You need the deep cycle battery for continuous use. The kind in your car is a cranking battery—just for starting an engine. Look for bargains, the cheapest ones should cost about $50-60.

3. Get a battery box to put it in for $10.

(This is good for covering up the exposed terminals in case there are children about If you going to install the system in a pump shed, cabin, or boat, skip this.) Buy a 12 volt DC meter. Radio Shack has them for about $25.

4. Buy a DC input.

I like the triple inlet model which you can find at a car parts store in the cigarette lighter parts section for about $10. This is enough to power DC appliances, and there are many commercially available, like fans, one-pint water boilers, lights, hair dryers, baby bottle warmers, and vacuum cleaners. Many cassette players, answering machines, and other electrical appliances are DC already and with the right cable will run straight off the box.

5. Invest in an Inverter.

If you want to run AC appliances, you will have to invest in an inverter. This will convert the stored DC power in the battery into AC power for most of your household appliances. I bought a 115 volt 140 watt inverter made by Power-to-Go at Pep Boys for $50. Count up the number of watts you’ll be using (e.g., a small color television(=60 watts) with a VCR(=22 watts), you’ll need 82 watts). A variety of cheap inverters from 100 watts to 3000 watts can be had from Lane’s Professional Car Products. Type “inverters” into his search bar.

6. Attach meter and DC input.

Use a drill to attach the meter and DC input to the top of the box.

7. Use insulated Wire to Attach the Meter to the Wingnut Terminals on the Battery.

Connect the negative (-) pole first. Only handle one wire at a time. Connect the DC inlet to the battery in the same way. Connect the solar panel to the battery in the same way.

8. Close the Lid

I use a bungee cord to keep it tight. Put the solar panel in the sun. It takes 5-8 hours to charge a dead battery; 1-3 hours to top off a weak one. It will run radios, fans, and small wattage lights all night, or give you about 5 hours of continuous use at 115 volt AC, or about an hour boiling water. This system may be added on to with larger panels, inverters, and batteries.

That’s quite a project that’ll kill an idle Sunday afternoon—and power a good deal of your electrical equipment. And save you a bunch of money. Happy solar building.

The first step to create a schedule for your solar project is to start listing all the work that needs to be done. This would include all the project activities and important milestones.

The sequence of all your important milestones will constitute the project roadmap.

Having a project roadmap helps in quickly understanding the exact status of your project. You can easily find out the exact status of a project, by identifying the latest completed project milestone.

Work Breakdown Structure

Depending on the scale and complexity of the project, you can decide how detailed your project activities should be.

For a simple project, it may be enough to define a few high-level project activities to capture the complete scope of work. Whereas for larger and more complex projects, you would need to create a detailed list of project activities to correctly capture that complexity.

Try to club the listed activities together into meaningful groups. For example – Engineering Design, Purchase, Delivery, Installation, Commissioning, Net metering approval etc. So your total scope of work gets broken into a meaningful structure which is easier to understand and to track.

This work breakdown will also help in the delegation of work, so that engineering, procurement and installation activities can be quickly assigned to relevant teams.

Standard Duration & Dependencies

The project schedule is essentially timelines of all the tasks/activities that you have already listed. Start and end dates of each task represent this timeline.

To determine start and end dates, first thing you need is the duration of each task. So next step is to note down the estimated duration of all the tasks/activities that you have listed.

Moreover, the start date of a task will also depend on other tasks that need to be completed before starting this one.

In scheduling terminology, these tasks that must be completed before starting another task are ‘Predecessor Tasks’. The tasks which are started afterward are ‘Successor Tasks’. And the linkage between them is known as ‘Dependency Relationship’

Either ‘start’ or ‘end’ of predecessor may be required for ‘start’ or ‘end’ of successor task. Correspondingly there are following four different possible dependency relationships.

  • Finish to Start: finish of predecessor leads to start of successor
  • Start to Start: start of predecessor leads to start of successor
  • Finish to Finish: finish of predecessor leads to finish of successor
  • Start to Finish: start of predecessor leads to finish of successor

Out of these ‘Finish to Start’ is the most common dependency relationship. It means that predecessor must be finished before successor task can be started.

Key Milestones

Apart from tasks, the timeline of your key milestones is also important. For example, some of the key milestones for a rooftop solar power project can be –

  • Project Order
  • Engineering Design & BOM
  • Material Delivery
  • Installation
  • System Go-live

When you are managing multiple small solar installation projects, it would be really helpful to track the key milestones dates for all those projects.

That would require defining these milestones in your schedule, which are triggered when their predecessor activities are completed. For example, ‘Installation’ milestone is triggered when all different installation activities are completed.

If you can track these milestone dates for different projects on a single dashboard, that would give you a very insightful snapshot of how all those projects are moving.

Critical Activities

After scheduling all the activities, some of those activities determine the overall project timeline. Usually, these activities form the ‘longest chain’ of activities. So that even if you increase the duration of any one activity from this longest chain by a day, overall project duration will also increase by a day.

So the critical path for a project is the chain of all such activities which have direct influence over project duration.

One important purpose of creating a project schedule is to identify these critical activities and to put them on highest priority. Because even one of them gets delayed, the whole project will be delayed.

Whereas, for non-critical path activities delay is acceptable to a limited extent.

Standard Project Schedule

Since the scope of work for most rooftop solar projects is quite similar to each other, you can leverage that to create standardized project scope of work. This would include – standard task list, workflows (processes) and standardized schedule.

For most projects, the list of activities to be done (task list) remains almost the same. The only thing that changes is the project capacity or scale. Correspondingly you can just change the duration of different activities to create a new schedule.

For example, larger projects will take longer time for installation and correspondingly overall project duration will be increased.

But a standard project schedule template makes it easier to schedule multiple projects by simply playing with the task duration.

Scheduling Tools

Project managers can use different tools to create and maintain their project schedules – Excel sheets, MS Project or other specialized project management platform.

Note that Excel sheets simply help you to manually create a bar chart, but not with automated scheduling.

For actually scheduling project activities, their timelines have to be determined based on duration and dependency relationships. Which can is done in project management or scheduling software. Normally, these software rely on critical path method for creating a project schedule. The graphical form of this schedule created using critical path method is also known as ‘Gantt chart’.

  • Define standard task lists for different types of rooftop solar projects
  • Use our scheduling tool to determine overall project timeline
  • Assign the scheduled tasks to different team members
  • Track the work done by your team on the project Gantt chart
  • Monitor project milestones on WorkPack dashboard

So WorkPack not only helps you to create a project schedule, but also to track the actual work done by your team against the planned timeline on your project schedule.

This gives you complete visibility of all the projects that your team is simultaneously running at different sites.

Do you think WorkPack can be useful for your team as well? Find out for yourself. Create a free account and take a test drive on WorkPack dashboard. Let us know if you need any help for signing up or learning how it all works.

How to create a solar system

This post contains affiliate links.

When I think of summer, I think of sunshine. Today, we’ll learn how the sun can cause chemical reactions in this solar printing science activity. You’ll just need:

Creating Your Solar Print

Follow the handling instructions on your solar print paper. Be sure you keep it out of bright light until you are ready to print. Place the objects on a piece of paper and then place the paper in sunlight for 1-2 minutes.

The solar printing is finished when the exposed areas of the paper turn white. (The area under your objects should still be blue, since the sun didn’t hit there.) Take the paper out of the sunlight and remove the objects. Run water over the paper for a couple minutes. Then, lay the wet paper on a towel to dry.

How to create a solar system

You should start to notice the white, sun-exposed areas turn blue and the blue shaded areas turn white. This is the final stage of the reaction.

How Solar Printing Works

Solar Print Paper produces prints by a process called cyanotyping. Cyanotyping involves treating paper with a solution of potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate. The solar printing paper you buy has already been treated.

When the treated paper is exposed to sunlight, the sunlight reacts with the iron on the paper. This starts a chain reaction which causes ferric ferrocyanide, or the pigment Prussian Blue, to form.

Rinsing the paper washes the unreacted iron away. As the paper dries, the Prussian Blue color is revealed.

Try Solar Printing Yourself

Many school supply stores and art supply stores have solar printing paper. I bought ours at a local museum gift shop. Like with anything else, you can also find solar print paper on Amazon, too.

How to create a solar system

Get creative with objects. In the picture above, we used flowers and leaves from our yard in one print and sunscreen in the other.

Solar printing can be done on fabric, as well as paper. This is an old technique that is a true artform. To see some beautiful cyanotype prints, check out this Cyanotype Pinterest Board.

More Summer Science Activities

Building A Square Foot Garden is a great all-summer science project for the entire family.

For a summer full of fun science ideas, check out 100 Summer Science Activities.

Summer nights are perfect for stargazing. Learn the summer constellations.