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Here students prepare a colorful Excel Solar System Chart


Computers & Internet, Science  


4, 5, 6  

Title – Our Solar System
By – Richard Feist
Primary Subject – Computers / Internet
Secondary Subjects – Science
Grade Level – 4 – 6 

General Goal(s):

    To use technology tools to prepare an Excel Chart to enhance learning and use creativity to communicate previously acquired knowledge about the solar system.

Specific Objectives:

  1. To research the orbits of objects in the solar system.
  2. To change colors in an Excel chart.
  3. To change settings in an Excel chart.
  4. To save a file to a network drive or other storage device.

Required Materials:

    Computers with Internet access and Microsoft Office

Step-By-Step Procedures: Get the data ready:

      1. Have students make the Solar System spreadsheet.
        Celestial Object Orbit (km)
      2. Enter the orbits of the celestial objects. Visit to get this info.
        Do not put the km at the end of the numbers or the chart will not work correctly!
      3. Right-align the numbers in the Orbit column and set them to have a thousands separator. 
        1. Highlight the numbers for the orbits of the planets.
        2. Click on the Format menu and choose Cells.
        3. Number tab:
          1. Choose Number in the Category box.
          2. Set decimal places to 0.
          3. Check the Use 1,000 separator box.
        4. Alignment tab:
          1. In the Text Alignment section set Horizontal to Right.
          2. Click OK.

Make and format the Solar System Chart:

This can be split into more than one class. Just save where you leave off.

    1. Highlight from the word Sun to the orbit for Pluto.
    2. Click on the Chart Wizard button in the toolbar.
    3. Choose Radar chart and click Next.
    4. No changes need to be made on step 2 of the chart wizard so just click Next.
    5. Title tab:
      1. Do not enter a title.
    6. Axis tab:
      1. Uncheck Value Y-axis.
    7. Gridlines tab:
      1. Only have Major Gridlines checked.
    8. Legend tab:
      1. Uncheck Show Legend box.
    9. Data Labels tab:
      1. Check Category Name and Value.
      2. Choose New Line for the Separator.
    10. Click Next.
    11. Choose As a New Sheet.
    12. Type Solar System Orbits for the chart name.
    13. Click Finish.
    14. Delete the words going around the outside of the radar chart.
      1. Click on the word Sun at the top and press Delete on the keyboard.
    15. Change the color of the connector line.
      1. Double click on the connector line (which is blue right now)
      2. You should be on the Patterns tab.
      3. Click on the dot next to None under the Line section so there will be no line.
      4. Click OK.
    16. Change the color of the planet points. This is important to do because otherwise they are piled on top of each other in one big blob.
      1. Position your mouse so the tooltip says (Series 1 Point=” (celestial object name)”) and click once, this will select all of the celestial object points.
      2. Click once again to select just the (celestial object name) point.
      3. Right Click on the (celestial object name) point and choose Format Data Point.
      4. You should be on the Patterns tab.
      5. Choose a style and set the Foreground and Background colors to both be:
        1. Mars-Red
        2. Earth-Blue
        3. Venus-Green
        4. Mercury-Orange
        5. Sun-Yellow
        6. All other planets – your choice of colors.
      6. Set the size to:
        1. 25 for the Sun, Click OK
        2. 15 for Mercury, Click OK
        3. 10 for the rest of the planets, Click OK
      7. Repeat a–f for the rest of the planets.
    17. Change the color of the labels to match the color of the points
      1. Click once on the label you want to change, this will select all of the celestial object labels.
      2. Click once again to select the individual label that you want.
      3. Right-Click on the label and choose Format Data Label
      4. Click on the Font tab.
      5. Choose the color to match the color of the point that goes with your celestial object.
      6. Repeat a-e for all of the planets.
    18. Display the chart in millions to take up less room for the numbers in the labels.
      1. Double-click on the Major Gridlines
      2. Click on the Scale tab.
      3. Choose Millions as the Display Units.
      4. Click OK
    19. Change the Millions label.
      1. Click once on the label in the top left that says Millions.
      2. Type Shown in Millions of km.
      3. Press Enter
    20. Change the colors of the chart to look more like you are in space.
      1. Double-click on the Major Gridlines.
      2. You should be on the Patterns tab.
      3. Choose White from the Color drop down box.
      4. Click OK.
      5. Right-click on the top right corner, in the white space.
      6. Choose Format Chart Area
      7. You should be on the Patterns tab.
      8. In the Area section choose the color Black
    21. Move the Celestial Object labels so you can clearly read them.
      1. Click once on the label you want to change, this will select all of the celestial object labels.
      2. Click once again to select the individual label that you want, a box should appear around it.
      3. Click and hold the left mouse button on the box and you can drag it to wherever you want it.
      4. Repeat 21a-21c for any other labels you want to move.

Note: If you need or would like to draw arrows from the labels to the points use the arrow tool on the drawing toolbar. You can change the color of the arrows using the line color button on the drawing toolbar after you draw the arrow.

E-Mail Richard Feist !

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