Trying to explain to a four and six year old why it’s cold in winter can be a challenge. I was getting into a long-winded dissertation about the northern hemisphere being tilted away from the sun in winter... and losing them fast. SOLIDWORKS to the rescue! Yes, I know there are hundreds of videos on YouTube explaining this, and Bill Nye even did a pretty cool episode on it, but what fun is that? My kids love when I break out SOLIDWORKS at home and we make “cool 3D stuff” on the computer.
So we started making a scale model of the solar system. Seeing as SOLIDWORKS has a physical limit of 1000m^3, the scale of the sun and earth would have to be roughly 1:149M. At this scale, navigating the “solar system” and even finding the earth became exceedingly time consuming (though pretty neat to see how small the earth is compared to the sun). So I just made the earth a 1m sphere and used a point light as the sun. It gets roughly the same effect without all the big numbers!
By finding an image of the earth (thanks again Google) I created a decal and wrapped it onto my sphere. Of course, it was critical that I tilted the decal 22.5deg, to actually show the seasons. Next, I created an assembly with the point light at the origin and a circle describing earth’s orbit. Again, very not-to-scale, but it’s OK.