The Solar System

SciPackDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

SciPacks are self-directed online learning experiences for teachers to enhance their understanding of a particular scientific concept and its related pedagogical implications for student learning. Unlimited expert content help via email and a final assessment both facilitate and document teacher learning.

The Solar System SciPack, co-developed between NASA and NSTA, explores the solar system and the various bodies within it. The focus in on the Standards and Benchmarks related to how we have learned about the solar system and what we know about the planets, moons, and other bodies in the solar system. Special focus is also given to how the solar system and its bodies formed.

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Reviews (39)
  • on Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:37 PM

The Solar System SciPack is FULL of information! It not only consists of the characteristics of the planets in our solar system, but it also thoroughly describes the history of planetary discovery, astroids, comets, meteors, and the scientific view of how planets formed. I would definitely recommend this SciPack to teachers who are seeking to gain content knowledge on the solar system.

Emily T
Emily T

  • on Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:59 PM

I really enjoyed this SciPack! It was engaging and I learned a lot about the solar system that I had not previously known. This wasn't tedious or taxing on the mind. It was a very enjoyable way to learn new information.

Chris T  (Cookeville, TN)
Chris T (Cookeville, TN)

  • on Fri Oct 21, 2016 7:54 PM

Though vigorous, I felt as though this was a great and informative exercise. I recall learning a lot of these concepts when I was in elementary school, but had forgotten many of the specifics-it was a fun way to brush up on some solar system facts!

Bridget  (Baltimore, MD)
Bridget (Baltimore, MD)

  • on Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:39 PM

The structure of the SciPacks really help me understand the underlying concepts that surround each topic. I had a lot of fear of science before learning about the NSTA Learning Center, and Initially, I was unsure of how well I'd grasp scientific concepts in a self-paced, online format. However, the carefully sequenced topics, interactive activities and simulations, in addition to the voice-over explanations work well together to help deepen my understanding in the content area. Especially valuable are the pedagogical implications and common student misconceptions. I feel a lot more knowledgeable about a subject after using a SciPack, and I highly recommend the Solar System SciPack to anyone needing to learn more about this topic or review key concepts.

Naomi Beverly  (Marietta, GA)
Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA)

  • on Sat Mar 01, 2014 12:26 AM

I'm teaching the solar system right now and have really enjoyed the extra information that helps me present the content to my students. There is a lot of information and great interactive extras, videos, and hands-on ideas.

Jessica Minton  (Cordova, TN)
Jessica Minton (Cordova, TN)

  • on Sun Jan 05, 2014 1:54 PM

I loved this resource. It inspired me to use the info and the slides for my students. I also loved the frequent checks for understanding. Again, this is something I will bring into my middle school science classroom.

Yelena Brachman  (Boulder, CO)
Yelena Brachman (Boulder, CO)

  • on Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:56 PM

I am in the midst of a career change, the information presented in this SciPack was exactly what I needed to refresh my memory on the information I was taught years ago. It was eye opening for me to see what I did and didn't remember in regards to the Solar System. This SciPack explained everything and it was extremely well thought out. I would recommend this SciPack to anyone who is looking to brush up on their Solar System knowledge.

Chad Byers
Chad Byers

  • on Fri Oct 04, 2013 7:27 PM

This compellation of lessons was a good range of information on the solar system. It discussed the creation of the Solar System to what it is today. I enjoyed the interactive models and slides which went along with the text. It seemed a little lengthy when I was going through it, but there was a lot to cover. I did not like the multiple part questions in the final assessment. I would still like to know which one of the questions that I answered incorrectly.

Jennifer  (Orchard Beach, MD)
Jennifer (Orchard Beach, MD)

  • on Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:16 PM

I thought his SciPack would be a fantastic way for me to brush up on my knowledge of the solar system. What I didn't expect was how much new material I would learn from one resource. The SciPack is structured in a way that you are taking in loads of information without being overwhelmed. I recommend doing the SciPack over the course of a few days and NOT all in one sitting, however. It is quite a long resource, especially if you are reading everything and doing all the activities throughout.

Katarina Lincalis
Katarina Lincalis

  • on Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:22 PM

I got a lot out of doing this SciPack! Since completing it, I've begun to understand gravity and motion in new ways, as well as expand my knowledge about the planets and other bodies in our solar system. I recommend this for just about any teacher or pre-teacher, as there are so many misconceptions about this topic. Many of my own were corrected by this resource!

Jennifer M Tanko
Jennifer M Tanko

  • on Thu May 10, 2012 11:12 AM

I recently completed this SciPack as a review before teaching Earth and Space Science to my 8th grade students. The material in this resource correlated perfectly to my state science standards and I was able to use and modify much of the information to be able to present it to my students. This is an excellent resource if you need a refresher in the characteristics of our solar system.

Erik  (Bountiful, UT)
Erik (Bountiful, UT)

  • on Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:30 AM

Earth and Space science is one of my weak points, so this SciPack was a good way for me to dig a bit deeper into what is known about the Solar System, and how we know it. The material is up to date and explains why Pluto is no longer considered a planet, while also indicating that future changes in classification may occur. This helps show science as a human endeavor.

Eric Carlson  (Royal City, WA)
Eric Carlson (Royal City, WA)

  • on Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:10 PM

This resource is a great learning opportunity for teachers! Since teachers will receive so much instruction on the solar system, they will be much more prepared to teach their students about the solar system, and will be sure to teach them accurate and up-to-date information.

Kimberly Forrester  (, )
Kimberly Forrester (, )

  • on Fri Oct 28, 2016 9:18 PM

This activity was much more difficult then I had thought it would be. There were a lot of things in each section that I did not remember learning when I was in elementary school and even when I took my Earth and Space Science class at Howard Community College, it was great to have a refresher on information about the Solar System that had been "lost" or forgotten over the years. It was also nice to learn some things about the solar system that I was never taught in elementary school or college. My biggest concern about this assessment is that it might teach a lot of things, but I feel as though they are unnecessary for a soon to be elementary school teacher. Teachers do not even teach a lot of the in depth information that the SciPack went over and lastly a few of the test questions did not align with what was read. I was just a bit confused.

Sarah R
Sarah R

  • on Wed Oct 26, 2016 5:14 PM

I really enjoyed this SciPack and thought it was very helpful. Each page provided a lot of information for the planets, comets & meteorites, and the ideas of past scientists. Theories were explained and concepts were taught through formulas. The only thing I didn't like was for the assessment, it was worded differently than in the SciPack so some parts were confusing.

April D
April D

  • on Wed Oct 26, 2016 4:35 PM

This SciPack included lots of information that I have forgotten, or honestly, didn't know. The interactive were informative and a nice break from all the reading. I can see it being extremely helpful if you were teaching astronomy. However, the final assessment was very difficult and hard for me to complete.

Kadie Bilbrey
Kadie Bilbrey

  • on Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:57 AM

I found this sci-pack to be very interesting. Space is one of my favorite things to learn about when discussing science. Even though I thought I knew a lot about our solar system already, I was shocked by some of the things the sci-pack taught me. I found it to be long and sometimes I got annoyed by the lady’s voice who read aloud but overall I found it helpful and I learned a lot from it.The test part was a little harder than the quiz questions asked throughout the sci-pack. Tests always make me nervous even if I’ve studied and prepared for them. I had to take it twice but I ended up passing the second time. Even though it was time consuming and seemed to drag on I did benefit from it and felt like I have taken away some important information about the solar system.

Jana Taylor
Jana Taylor

  • on Thu Oct 20, 2016 10:03 PM

After completing this SciPack, I have to say that it was well worth my time. Space is so amazing, and this resource helped me broaden my understanding of the many aspects involved in our solar system. From concepts as simple as the order of our planets, to more complicated ideas such as nebular theory, this SciPack has you covered! If you are interested in our solar system, its history, historical perspectives, and various other aspects of space, you should definitely check this out! The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is because it can be a bit repetitive at times. Overall, it is a great resource that I highly recommend.

Elijah A
Elijah A

  • on Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:59 AM

I had to complete this Solar System SciPack as an assignment for my education class. For this SciPack, there was a lot of information. There were a lot of pictures as well, and they were very helpful. It was organized by folders which was very helpful. I liked how each section was short and concise, but overall there was a lot of information. I had to do the SciPack over several different days, because it was hard to sit down and read all of that information. Overall, I did learn a lot from this. It was a great overview of all of the information about the Solar System. I would suggest doing this to review information, or even learn any of the new information to be able to teach it to a class. If you have enough time, I would suggest taking this.

Michelle  (Finksburg, MD)
Michelle (Finksburg, MD)

  • on Wed Oct 14, 2015 12:13 AM

This resource is a great learning opportunity for teachers.I feel that this resource will allow teachers to be more prepared to teach students about the solar system. I think this is a great resource that all teachers who are going to teach the solar system should have.


  • on Thu Oct 30, 2014 4:12 PM

Recently as school assignment I need to complete the Solar System SciPack. This was my first experience doing any kind of online science learning. I am more of the hands on, kinesthetic, learner. Prior to starting the SciPack we were required to assess ourselves by completing the pre-assessment. This allowed me to see how much I knew before reading through the material. Surprisingly I had a reasonably amount of prior knowledge. When starting the actual packet I found that it was easily manageable. Each folder consisted of information that was short and to the point. The visual aids in forms of diagrams and videos are a bonus for those who are visual learners. It allowed for me to see and understand at a different level the information I was reading. As I progressed through the Solar System SciPack I became eager to learn more. There were many topics that I remembered learning previously but there was a great deal of background, and new, information that I was not aware of beforehand. This is a good way to review or learn new material. The periodic quizzes permit the learner to verify that they understand the material they just read. Besides giving explanations on wrong answers the packet reinforces with explanations when you also answer correctly. I will say that the final assessment is hard and a little confusing. I would have preferred completing a written comprehension assessment rather than a multiple choice. This way you can really show if you understood the material. If every SciPack is set up the same way I will definitively do more of them to refresh prior knowledge and learn new material.

Alix-Anne Bush  (College Park, MD)
Alix-Anne Bush (College Park, MD)

  • on Thu Oct 30, 2014 3:23 PM

The Solar System is interactive and allows the user to use a variety of different images and stimulation in order to engage the learner. The quizes online allow the learner to assess themselves at their own pace and create their own system of strategies to retain the content. As an educator I see this as a valuable tool for educators in the science content area and feel that it is a great way to present the information. I do feel that the final assessment hindered us through the lack of information on what to improve on if we failed, but think that overall it is definitely informative, engaging, and useful to both students and educators.

Julie Castaneda
Julie Castaneda

  • on Wed Oct 29, 2014 12:16 PM

I really enjoyed this scipack. I gained a lot of good information from it. I was able to pass the post test on my second try so I feel like I learned a lot. I do feel like it gives you a of information, which can be good, but can also be overwhelming. It may be better to split this scipack up into a couple of different scipacks in order to be able to master one topic at a time instead of several.

Jennifer Cooper
Jennifer Cooper

  • on Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:19 AM

If you're looking for an extensive crash course on the solar system, this is the resource for you! While I would not recommend completing it in one sitting, it provides many detailed explanations that are easy to understand at any knowledge level.

Madison Miller
Madison Miller

  • on Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:39 PM

I found this SciPack very challenging. There is a lot of information to learn about the solar system inside of this SciPack.

Victoria  (Laurel, MD)
Victoria (Laurel, MD)

  • on Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:46 AM

This sci-pack is very good for learning about the Solar System. It contains a lot of important and useful information for thoroughly learning the material. But, one thing is that this sci-pack was very difficult. It took me several tries to pass it, but in the end I obtained new knowledge. It may be difficult for teachers to use this resource for teaching because although the information is categorized into sections, there is so much difficult information that may be hard to teach. I believe the sci-pack is not laid out in a way for teachers to use as a guide for teaching. But, the sci-pack was a good way of learning the material so that the teacher has full knowledge on the topic. A benefit of the assessment being hard was that I learned a lot from reading the information numerous times and also taking the assessment several times. Lastly, I like that the sci-pack contains a ton of information because it includes everything and all the information needed to learn about the Solar System.

Catherine Lee
Catherine Lee

  • on Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:25 PM

This was an excellent resource for information about the solar system. It also has visual aid that would be helpful if this scipack was used in the classroom, and they illustrate some of the concepts very well.

Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith

  • on Thu Dec 08, 2011 7:16 PM

The scipack really helped me prepare for my upcoming unit on the solar system. It gave me the common misconceptions I would be able to know before I taught a lesson. The interactives were also really interesting. I liked the different videos that they had in the scipack. I know that I feel more comfortable teaching the solar system to my students.

Kelly A  (Brewster, NY)
Kelly A (Brewster, NY)

  • on Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:54 AM

This resource provides a good start to learning about the planets in the solar system. It explores the characteristics of each planet and how they are both similar and different from each other. Contains charts and illustrations as well. It also gives background information on the reclassification of Pluto as a dwarf planet.

Kate Geer  (Louisville, CO)
Kate Geer (Louisville, CO)

  • on Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:25 PM

I have always found the solar system very interesting and the content of this Scipack goes very in-depth. I feel as though there is A LOT of content and you would need to break up your time doing this in smaller segements. I feel like the review sections should be more fulfilling and there should definitely be a review segment at the end of the total scipack before taking the final assessment. The final assessment was very difficult for me because of the many multiple answer questions and I felt that some questions were VERY tricky or not even found in the text.

Kaitlyn Lundholm
Kaitlyn Lundholm

  • on Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:04 PM

There was a ton of information in this SciPack, so I did learn a lot. However, the sheer amount of information thrown at me was overwhelming. By the time I got to the assessment, I had covered so much information that I could not even remember what I read about in the beginning. I think the assessment should be broken down into smaller pieces. There could be a few questions at the end of each lesson, and then at the end they could all be compiled and graded. I think that would have helped with my comprehension of the information. Overall, though, I feel like I definitely gained somethin out of this SciPack. That makes it a positive for me.

Avery Davis
Avery Davis

  • on Wed May 24, 2017 1:39 PM

The Solar System has always been very fascinating to me. I enjoy the topic. I did not really care for the fact that the material was very plain and delivered as if we were expected to already know a majority of what was there. If the material was more engaging I would definitely have enjoyed it much more. I enjoyed the little random facts that popped up every now and then. That is truly what kept me engaged throughout the SciPak.

Sabrina Pelfrey
Sabrina Pelfrey

  • on Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:48 PM

Although this SciPack is full of information, I don't believe it prepared me for the assessment. I felt prepared and as though I had studied it well, until I took it. Even after reviewing it several times after taking the assessment the first time, I still had a difficult time with it. This was a challenging and difficult SciPack for me, personally. A lot of the answer choices were also very "wordy" to me.

Kierra Madison
Kierra Madison

  • on Mon Nov 28, 2016 8:22 PM

Very informative!! It is a little outdated because there are references to things that "will happen in 2015" I would like to see a redo of this scipak with the updated information. Since it took days to get through I had to retake the assessment at the end after going back and reviewing. Not sorry that I did this scipak. I enjoyed it!

Amanda McMahon
Amanda McMahon

  • on Fri Oct 28, 2016 12:33 AM

I could recall some of this information from my own elementary school experience, but some was new to me as well! I found all of the videos and images interesting, and the descriptions were well thought out and beneficial. The 3 star rating is because the multi-part questions made the assessment very frustrating. Even after going back and reading the suggested areas, I got 69.2 twice and then 65.2, so I think for me the review made me second guess on the wrong questions rather than help correct misconceptions. Either a poor design, or maybe I really didn't grasp certain concepts.


  • on Wed Oct 26, 2016 2:56 PM

It was good to review some of the information because I had forgotten a lot of it; however, some of the questions were extremely tricky and made it very difficult to find the answers in the text.

Madison Espinosa
Madison Espinosa

  • on Sat Jul 23, 2016 11:11 AM

This SciPack is filled with in-depth information about the Solar System. This would be a great resource when you are learning about the characteristics of the different planets. The information is up to date on the different theories and technology used to understand the solar system. I thought the test at the end of the SciPack was extremely difficult.

Amber Swander
Amber Swander

  • on Sat Mar 22, 2014 3:31 PM

The information in this scipack is interesting and invaluable if you are teaching astronomy at any level but the test is ridiculously difficult and does not need to be quite that involved.

Elaine Bonorato
Elaine Bonorato

  • on Thu Mar 30, 2017 2:39 AM

Some of the questions and answers were ambiguous. There was no way to review what you got incorrect so there was no way to know what you needed to go back and reread.

Sara Rogers
Sara Rogers

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