Van Andel Institute for Education Showcases City-Sized Solar System

Van Andel Institute for Education (VAI) sincerely believes in the power of project-based learning and its ability to create meaningful impact on student communities. To that end, VAI chose to celebrate the 2022 ArtPrize festival by highlighting the incredible work of their student scientists. Summer campers at VAI, in conjunction with the Girls Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore, have created a scale model of the solar system which is now on display throughout downtown Grand Rapids. VAI's Planetary Walking Tour encourages participants to explore the city and learn more about each planet while also conceptualizing the vastness of space. Along the way, individuals will experience unique locations and familiarize themselves with Grand Rapids landmarks like the John Ball Zoo.

Visit each of the planets on the Walking Tour!
Sun - Van Andel Institute for Education
Mercury - Van Andel Institute for Education
Venus - Manic Muse Salon
Earth - Van Andel Institute Visitor Parking Lot
Mars - UICA
Jupiter - Grand Rapids Children's Museum
Saturn - Grand Rapids Public Museum
Uranus - Hopscotch Children's Store
Neptune - Ball Park Floral
Pluto - John Ball Zoo

The girls' city-sized solar system is centered around the sun, which is located at Van Andel Institute for Education, where their camp took place. The sun is built from an exercise ball, and each of the planets is built to scale - in relation to both their size and their distance from the sun. Participants will get to see first-hand how tiny the planets are compared to the sun, as well as how far the planets are from the sun and from each other. Each planet is also accompanied by a student-created infographic which details fun facts about that specific world. VAI hopes this exceptional activity will encourage others to learn more about outer space while witnessing the true potential of project-based learning in action.

To learn more about VAI's Planetary Walking Tour, as well as Van Andel Institute for Education, please visit

City Sized Solar system

Page last modified November 7, 2022