The solar system dropped to a Soldotna street last week, but the only screams to be heard were shouts of glee from a group of children.
With help from the city of Soldotna, Karl Kircher's fourth- and fifth-grade Soldotna Elementary School class took over a section Park Avenue last Wednesday to create a scale drawing of the nine planets in the solar system.
After several weeks of studying space, Kircher said he wanted students to get a broader vision of the size of the solar system.
Using a scale in which one foot equaled about 10 million kilometers, students used colored chalk to draw the nine planets of the solar system and write facts about the planets on huge "note cards."
"The city was really supportive," Kircher said, explaining the city bumped Park Avenue up on the street sweeping schedule and cordoned off about 600 feet of road for the project. "As soon as I said kids in schools, they were all over it."
Mother Nature offered a helping hand in the project, as well, granting students a cloudless day for their field trip about a block from the school.
"It's a perfect day," said fourth-grader Alexandria Kirsch, who was working on the sketch of Saturn.
Working in groups of three, students drew their scale-sized planets, wrote out facts about each of the orbs and created an "alien" that might live there.
But, the students admitted, they are well-aware no life lives on most planets.
"If you stepped on Saturn, you'd fall right through," said fourth-grader Ashley McCamon. "Saturn doesn't weigh anything."
"A baby could pick it up," added fourth-grader Brooke Hughes.
Saturn wasn't the only planet the students proved experts on, either.
"I think an interesting fact is Venus' day is longer than its year," said fourth-grader Brenden Couch. "Also, they've never been to it, because all the air on Venus is toxic. It's hotter than Mercury, because the atmosphere won't let the hot air out."
Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system, fifth-grader Lindsay Shackleton explained.
"It's heavier than all the other planets put together," added fourth-grader Kyle Gray.
Temperatures on Uranus get up to 333 below zero, noted fourth-grader Tyler Marcuson.
"It was the first planet discovered with a telescope," he added.
Neptune has eight moons, as well as one cloud that travels around the planet and is nicknamed "Scooter" by scientists," fourth-grader Lauretta Price said.
Fifth-grader Elizabeth Miller noted that Pluto is called the "double planet" because it is no larger than the moon that orbits it.
"They once thought (Pluto) was a moon," she said.
While students said they enjoyed showing off their knowledge of the solar system a group of girls working on the Saturn drawing even took a curious man from the Soldotna Senior Citizens Center on a "tour" students said they also appreciated the opportunity to get outside.
"So far, it's pretty fun," said fifth-grader Cassi Hollingworth.
"It's not all about work," added fifth-grader Molly Nyland. "We get to draw and stuff."
And, as Kircher hoped, students said they were impressed with the scope of the project.
"It's so big," said fourth-grader Austin Druce.
That was the point, Kircher said.
"Some things just don't fit in a classroom."
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