Constellation Project

Description: Collective creation of an original constellation representing the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge and made through individual stars. A Great way to introduce respecting differences. Different cultures have different stories for constellation images because everyone sees things differently.

Project Ideas: respecting difference, literacy, technology

Objectives/discussion:

1. The science of stars—stellar spectrum/star age

2. Community, collective contribution, and conservation: gathering together to help the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge’s efforts and principles symbolically, and to inspire new attitudes and activism.

3. Appreciation of nature—the environment and the night sky

Author: Kristin, Blair, Gracie

Grade level or Target Age Range: Kindergarten to adult

Historical Art Examples or References: Cut-out star sample, constellation mythology stories, mid-April star map, paper star finder
Western Washington University – Stories about constellations in greek mythology.
Chandra – a catalogue of the different constellations and the stories behind them.

Vocabulary: Radial design, abstract art, stellar spectrum

Materials: Tracers, scissors, white paper, crayons, large blue paper, and double-sided tape

Anticipatory Set: Star finder/fortune teller, background information and stories about the stars, and discussion of Ursa Major, currently at the zenith of the night sky. Prompt discussion with the question, “What has drawn humans’ eyes upward throughout history?” Curiosity, mystery, ambition.

Demo/Directions:

1. Separate from the main project, individuals may make a star finder according to the instructions on hand-outs.
(5-10 minutes)

2. Make paper stars by folding square paper into eighths, then cutting arms of the star (similar to making a paper snowflake).
(5 minutes)

3. Color the paper stars blue, white (uncolored, possibly just decorated), yellow, or red, according the stellar spectrum.
(10 minutes)

4. Tape the paper stars onto blue paper and hang on wall wherever individual chooses.
(10 minutes)

5. Have students step back after at least 5 stars are posted and draw their own constellation from the star arrangement they see.
(15 minutes)

6. Collect individual constellations and choose one as the John Heinz constellation.
(15 minutes)

Instructional Reflection:
1. Children were engaged immediately by the discussion about stars. It was very effective to ask questions with a hook, such as “Which star do you think is the coolest? The blue stars or the red giants?” Remember to connect the discussion to the star they know best.

2. Being comfortable with the basic gist of the stellar spectrum is very helpful and it can only make things more fun when the teacher expands the research.

3. Some students had difficulty with making the stars look star-like and not like snowflakes. It is helpful to have them draw lines going inward for the star arms before cutting.

4. If there is more time, further discussion of constellations and possibly the stories behind them would deepen interest in the individual star creation.

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