Sometimes school is life. Actually, as homeschoolers, life is school pretty much all the time, but I mean officially. Yesterday, we took a Lego day.
The Engineer has been working hard on school stuff these last few weeks. We’ve mastered 3 different types of graphs and moved into line graphs. We’ve covered verbs and nouns, mastered quite a few multiplication facts, and spent a lot of time learning about ancient Egyptians and hurricanes. As far as homeschooling goes, we’re killing it.
Then we went to Lego club, and his leader mentioned the Lego Orrery she shared in group the other day. I laughed and told her that we had all the parts but we hadn’t put it together yet. She suggested that the Engineer bring it in as his home build – and his eyes lit up. Suddenly, we HAD to put it together!
An orrery: a mechanical model of the solar system or sun/moon/earth in order to demonstrate their rotation and position. This model doesn’t include the tilt and isn’t to scale.
Of course, we were going to put it together eventually. I hadn’t printed out the 64 pages of directions yet because … 64 pages is a lot of pages. He was too impatient to wait: he built it sitting in front of my computer instead.
An all day affair
It took all day. Actually, it took more than all day, a few frustrated parent moments, and some intense concentration. He did it! It’s a fully functioning orrery: a model of the Sun, moon, and planet earth that rotates in a fairly close approximation to the real thing.
Now, his dad did have to take it apart to fix the one wrong blue peg that was too tight, but the Engineer did most of the work correctly and on his own. I’m proud of him! It took a lot of dedication and time to pull this off for a 7-year-old.
Then his sister wanted to play with earth and almost destroyed the entire thing. Siblings!
If you want to create it yourself, go here for the directions and parts list. Both are free, courtesy of dedicated Lego fans Jason Allemann and his partner Kristal. There are multiple different Lego reseller sites that you can purchase parts from for this project, but we chose to use Lego’s official replacement parts page because some of the parts are expensive on resale sites. The cost for this model ran about $70 in parts, and involved quite a bit of my time typing part numbers into the search function. Plus some swearing at Lego when I forgot NOT to hit the “back” button on my browser and wiped the entire cart out.
I’m sure you’ve probably noticed that the colors don’t quite match the original in the video. That’s because the base plates were out-of-stock for tan/gold, and grey was all they had. Ours isn’t quite as pretty, but it’s functional.
Note: the bottom gear train is NOT supposed to engage with the bevel gear on the hand crank. We figured this out the hard way. Just follow the directions.
It was his idea to use the eyeball as the moon. He’s still an average 7-year-old!