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Astronomy Science Fair Project

Cross-section of Planets: Modeling Terrestrial Interiors in a Bottle

Cross-section of Planets: Modeling Terrestrial Interiors in a Bottle | Science Fair Projects | STEM Projects
Explore the mysteries of planetary differentiation and create your own terrestrial planet models with varying densities and layers, using a plastic bottle and a variety of materials. Shake up your creation and watch as the layers settle into place.


The hypothesis of this experiment is that different materials with varying densities will settle into distinct layers when mixed together, simulating the process of planetary differentiation.

Method & Materials

You will create a model of a terrestrial planet using a plastic bottle and various materials of different densities. The materials will be layered to represent the layers within a planet, and then the bottle will be shaken to simulate the process of differentiation.
You will need a clean plastic bottle without a label, markers, rulers, various materials such as fish gravel, marbles, straws, plastic beads, wooden beads, Legos, and light-colored, non-toxic liquids of different densities such as cooking oil, syrup, corn syrup, and water, as well as a Planetary Interior Data Table (in the Learn More Project Page link).


Through this experiment, students were able to create models of terrestrial planets and simulate the process of planetary differentiation. One observation that stood out was how the different materials settled into distinct layers, reflecting the natural conditions and processes of planetary formation.

Why do this project?

This science project is interesting and unique because it allows students to take an active role in modeling the formation of planets, and provides a hands-on experience that helps to reinforce scientific concepts.

Also Consider

Experiment variations to consider include using different materials to create the layers, such as sand or clay, or exploring how temperature affects the process of differentiation by heating up the materials before layering them in the bottle.

Full project details

You can find additional information and details for this science fair project here. Have fun exploring!

Related video

Hey there! Here are some awesome videos about this science project that we think you'll really like. They're not only super fun, but they'll also help you learn more about the science behind the project. So sit back, relax, and get ready to have some fun!!
Learn about the different density of materials that make up Earth, and how it can be demonstrated in a bottle!
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