This amazing interactive model has been floating around for a while, passed along via Facebook and other social networks. It presents different organisms, buildings, and planets to scale so that you can see their relative size differences. You start at the level of a human, but can scroll to zoom in to the level of strings (the quantum kind, not the yarn kind), or out to the non-observable universe. It’s quite a journey! Each object that is shown can be clicked on for an explanation (which is a good thing, because I had no idea what quantum foam is).
This website is a lot like using the solar system feature of Google Earth, but it uses up a whole lot less of your computer’s processor, and isn’t an application that needs to be downloaded and installed. It’s a beautiful 3D model of the solar system that can be manipulated to zoom into specific areas. So far, there isn’t that much functionality yet; you can see the planets in relation to one another, and even drag them through their orbits. However, the function to provide actual information on a planet when you click on it is still in development. There are some cool features, though: you can view a star’s name and distance from the sun by hovering over it, and you can manipulate a calendar feature to watch the planets throughout the year.
This fun, interactive lesson helps to put the size of the universe in context, using the student’s own address (or the address of the school; it’s up to you). It’s fun to play with, and fascinating for any age group. To check it out, click here, then click on the “Online Interactive” link (a picture of the Earth and a basketball).
Also, the parent site, Smithsonian Education, has LOTS of great stuff if you’re in the mod to explore.
Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.
It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go. Software does take a chunk of time to download, but it’s worth it.