Modeling Prompt: The Paths of the Planets

In Class Launch

Use after Unit 2, Lesson 3.

Elicit students’ prior knowledge about the solar system and what it looks like. Sketch a picture like this of the sun and a few planets with their orbital paths.

Model of the path of planets.

Using student input and making corrections if necessary, write a list of the planets in order from nearest to farthest away from the sun (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune). Ask students to estimate how long it takes each planet to go around the sun, and write the estimates next to each planet.

Tell students that there is a relationship between a planet’s distance from the sun and its orbital period (the time it takes to complete one revolution around the sun). In this activity, they will figure out how to describe that relationship using polynomials.

Blackline Masters

  • Advice on Modeling
  • Modeling Rubric



  • HSA-CED.A.2
  • HSF-BF.A.1
  • HSS-ID.B.6.a