How to Make Play-Doh Planets!

(or a making-of for "The Size of Earth" Movie)

On April 21st 2012, me and other 10 hackers gathered at the House of Digital Culture, São Paulo, Brazil, to the 1st edition of the International Space Apps Challenge.

I was very excited, because I love the space, the planets and the stars. I wanted to work on a project, but I am not really a coder (although I recently started learning CSS and HTML - basically, I have the skills to make a website just like this you are reading right now, and that is it :P). Actually, nor me, nor Erica (the only other women in the room at the time the hackathon started) are coders - and not having women participating on the challenges would be super lame. So I wanted to show how people can use very simple web tools (+ creativity, + fun!) to hack spatial data and build something cool out of it.

I chose one of the many challenges proposed for the event: the Size of Earth App. The proposal involved building an application that would help people to rediscover the size of earth (inspired by what Eratosthenes did 2500 years ago, with no computer available at the time :P). I thought that knowing that Earth has 40,030.2 km of equatorial circunference, 6,371.00 km of mean radius and 5,972,190,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg of mass is one thing, but knowing what these big numbers actually mean in such a huge universe like ours is also very important.

So I joined Bruno Fernandes and Samanta do Amaral, two wonderful filmmakers, on a last-minute team. And this is where we got to:

Size of Earth from bruno fernandes on Vimeo.

We had a lot of fun making the planets and recording our movie, and I can tell I learnt a lot only by doing it. I hope other people around the world will think it's fun too!

So here you have a tutorial on how to make your own play-doh planets (or anything else you want mixing open data and play-doh):

Step 1: How to find, get and use the open spatial data you need

Step 2: How to make play-doh

Step 3: How to make a stopmotion movie