What is the Size & Shape of Earth? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Elizabeth Hance

Elizabeth has taught elementary and middle school special education, and has a master's degree in reading education.

In this lesson, you will learn about the size and the shape of the planet that we all live on: Earth. Earth's shape and size are important for understanding how our planet works.

Understanding Our Planet's Shape

Chances are you've caught or thrown a baseball, or at least seen one on television. You've probably eaten an orange, too. And if you have ever seen a globe, a model of our planet Earth, then you may have noticed that all of those objects have the same shape: a sphere. A sphere is a round, solid shape. The Earth is not quite a perfect sphere: it actually is a little fatter at the equator, the invisible line that goes around the middle of the Earth.

It was only a few hundred years ago that people thought that our planet was flat. They worried that if they sailed across the ocean, they would eventually get to the end of the Earth, and they might even fall off of an edge.

Here you can see the round shadow of the Earth on our Moon

But how do we know for sure that the Earth is round? There are actually a few ways that you can confirm for yourself that our planet is not flat. For example, when the Earth is between the sun and the moon, you can see the Earth's shadow on the moon. You can tell that the shadow is round and curved. Airplanes also help prove that the Earth is round. They can fly around the entire planet without stopping!

Size of the Earth

It can be hard to understand just how big the Earth is; unlike a ball or an orange, we cannot hold it in our hands or put it on a scale to weigh it. You could start by imagining a track around a football field. It's probably about .25 miles long. The equator is 24,901 miles. That means if you stretched out a track, it would fit around the Earth 99,604 times. Imagine trying to run almost 100,00 times!

You can also think about the size of our planet in terms of its mass, or weight. Our Earth weighs 6.6 sextillion tons. Want to write that number? You'll need to use 20 zeroes! In addition, the Earth is actually gaining a tiny bit of weight each day as meteors from the solar system land on our planet.

Volume is another way to understand the size of our planet: how much solid space does it take up? It has a volume of about 260 billion cubic miles. That means if you built a box that was one mile tall, deep, and wide you could fit 260 billion of them inside the Earth.

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