Constellations

**FINAL PROJECT

Crystal Zeller
Elyda Torres-Tafoya
Teresa Russo
Jenna Judy

ECI 306-Bloom**

1. INTRODUCTION (CONSTELLATIONS)
7th Grade
Throughout history constellations have influenced various aspects of human culture. Before our advances in technology ancient cultures from around the world looked to the stars for answers. Constellations were the basis of religion for some cultures. Other cultures used it to develop calenderers, which would determine the planting of various crops throughout the year. Constellations were used for navigation in that sailors could depend on certain fixtures in the sky to show the way. It would even inspire the Egyptians to build according to constellations, in that the great pyramids are aligned to the belt of Orion. Nonetheless the influence of constellations is evident, and therefore should be looked at further, as they have a lot to teach.
Goals of the Unit:
Students will see the importance of constellations and how they’ve come about. Students will learn from constellations and be able to apply what they have learned to their own lives. Students will gain an appreciation for constellations and what they have to teach.

2. UNIT MAP OR DESCRIPTION

3. CONCEPTUAL EXPLANATIONS

In this series of lessons about constellations and stars, there are several main concepts students should learn. They should learn about the main constellations (Orion, Ursa Major, Cygnus, Scorpius, and Cassiopeia) and the stories associated with them. Additionally, they should learn the reasons why constellations move across the night sky throughout the year and across the seasons. At the same time, they would learn about the moon and sun and why those objects move differently in the sky compared to the stars and constellations. Finally, they would learn about how explorers used to navigate using the stars and constellations as well as other reasons constellations might be important in the past and the present.

4. ENGAGEMENT, INQUIRY, END PROJECT

This unit can be very exciting for students to become engaged. Teachers can make their “homework” something fun like looking at the stars every night and write down the differences they see each night for a few weeks. Another thing that teachers can do is find an observatory in the town, or surrounding area and have an overnight field trip (if allowed) to learn about the constellations and stars from experts. If the teachers are able to get the inflatable dome that has the constellations displayed in it at their school, it could be a great way to bring the constellations to the students during the school day so they are able to learn more about them and see them more closely. Learning how the sun and moon move differently in the night sky compared to the stars and constellations will allow for the students to know the different orbital patterns. Having the students track the patterns they see every night for a certain amount of time can allow them to see the differences over a long or short duration.
The best forms of inquiry for this topic is to allow for the students to hypothesize and theorize about how they think the stars/ sun and moon are moving across the sky. It will begin as observational because they will track the differences they see every night. Then they will theorize what they think the cause of this is. From there, the students can research the true cause of this and there can be class discussions about their findings so that they will be allowed to talk through their thoughts and together the class will be able to figure out how our solar system functions.
The end product of this unit would be for the students to work together and create a website about their findings that they discovered through the discussions, observations, and activities they have worked on. In groups, the students will work together to thoroughly report their findings so that other students in the future will be able to see their project and website and learn from it as well.

5. SUB-UNIT ACTIVITIES, INQUIRIES, INQUIRY QUESTIONS, AND DATA ANALYSES

Concepts: Stories and myths associated with constellations, Seasonal change of constellations, and the use of constellations.
*(It would be helpful to do activities in order as listed but is not necessary.)
Stories and myths associated with constellations: In every culture stars have been observed and named, thus the idea of constellations. Students will explore questions such as:
➢ How do you think constellations got their names?
➢ How did people decide on what stars to group together to make constellations?
➢ Are all the stars in the sky grouped into constellations?
➢ Do you think constellations always look exactly like what they represent?
Activities:
➢ Give students various handouts of stars. Some may be a random assortment of stars while others may contain constellations such as the big dipper. Ask students to identify any constellations they see. Ask them to use their imagination and create a constellation of their own and name it and write a short story about the constellation they have created.
➢ Take students outside to “cloud watch”. Similar to constellations students can see shapes and figures in the clouds. Have students look at and compare the figures they see do they agree? Does every cloud take on a shape? Do some clouds stick out more than others? Are all clouds necessary or can some be ignored and not used? Do they look exactly like an image? Students can use their observations of clouds and relate it to their knowledge of constellations in answering questions.
➢ Read various stories and myths to students. Have them create their own based on their “invented” constellations.
Seasonal change of constellations: Many things change with the seasons and constellations are no different. Students will explore questions such as:
➢ Why do you think constellations change with season?
➢ What other things change with season?
➢ Are there other fixtures in the sky that change, such as the moon and sun?
Activities:
➢ Take students out at various times during the day to observe the sun and its position in the sky. Students can use various instruments to collect data on the sun and it decent across the sky such as a sundial. Students can use this knowledge of change on a day-to-day basis and relate it to change on a longer time scale such as an entire season.
➢ Make a pyramid or some other form of observatory in which students can enter and observe constellations. In our implementation we set a star theater in the center of a pyramid in which constellations were visible. Students were able to manipulate the star theater and set it according to months. This allows students to see a mock replica of what they would witness in their own night sky at any given time of the year.
Use of constellations: Various ancient cultures have used constellations and stars in their cultures. They could determine when to plant certain crops dependent on where a constellation was in the sky. They made calendars based on the constellations, noticing a consistent pattern threw out the year, which helped them make various decisions in their lives. Students will explore:
➢ How to navigate via constant stars.
➢ Predict the appearance of a constellation.
➢ Why were constellations so important?
➢ How can constellations be used?

Activities:
➢ Students can create their own calendars based on the constellations. It can be in any form they choose. Some students may make a mock replica of an ancient calendar. While others may make a more modern calendar simply identifying which constellations will be observable in what month. Leave it open to the students of how they would like to display their calendars they may surprise you with what they create.

➢ Again have students observe the sun. Is there a constant pattern they notice that can help them determine North, South, East, West? Are there any stars that never change? Do stars rise and set in a given pattern? All of this information can be used when navigating. Have students determine a way in which they can navigate using only this information. It could be a form of lottery task in which you give students the problem and have them come up with an answer. Everyone will have different solutions.

6. TRANSDISCIPLINARY (INTEGRATIVE) AND PATTERNS OPPORTUNITIES

Stars and constellations can be taught across other subjects because it is very versatile. It can be brought into social studies because of how many cultures has viewed stars and their different uses for stars and constellations. For mathematics, the students can discuss how far they have noticed the stars moving across the sky or even the sun/moon for a week in the night sky. They can then research the difference and figure out the actual measurements. They can also discuss the calendar and how it is based on the stars and moon and seasons. The students can draw the constellations for art and can read or write about the constellations to bring in language arts.
Math, social studies, and language arts can take place naturally within this unit. Bring in the calendars and how different people view stars and constellations is a natural process to talking about stars because many students could have different background knowledge passed down from them about these topics.
Stars and constellations fall under many metapatterns that can be taught during this unit. They can be discussed as spheres, which many students might not understand at first because of the name “star” but once explain, they will be able to understand that stars are indeed spheres. They can talk about sheets and borders and pores and how we are divided from stars because of our atmosphere and talk about hierarchies such as stars individually and grouped together as well as different degrees of stars such as the sun. They can discuss holarchies and the galaxies and clonons and holons as individual stars within the solar system and galaxies. Centers could be about the sun and its gravitational pull on our solar system. Time and calendars and cycles can be discussed about the stars and it also brings in social studies. Clusters would be the constellations and gradients would be about the different degrees of stars. Emergence could be about the Big Bang Theory and its affect on stars and the galaxy.

7. ASSESSMENT

The information students learn in these lessons will be assessed authentically. At the beginning of the unit or series of lessons, student knowledge can be assessed through class discussion. Throughout the unit, most assessment will occur during the students’ discussion sessions and during their explorations. It is also possible to assess students’ learning based on the written observations they make about the movement of the sun, moon, and stars. Additionally, any items the students make during the unit (e.g., the calendar) can be useful in assessing student learning as well.

8. IMPLEMENTATION

Description- In our implementation we set a star theater in the center of a pyramid in which constellations were visible. Students were able to manipulate the star theater and set it according to months. This allows students to see a mock replica of what they would witness in their own night sky at any given time of the year. We also then had the students create their own constellations on black paper with chalk.

Reflections and recommendations- Our activities actively engaged students in learning because it was hands on. They got to go into the pyramid that we built and actually see the different constellations. They could then while in the pyramid ask any questions that they had and we were able to answer them. After they viewed the constellations they were able to make their own constellations of whatever shape they wanted so it was more hands on activities were the students would be engaged. To be more effective we could have made the pyramid just a little bigger to be able to fit more comfortably in it and make it darker so the constellations would be easier to see. Insights that we have would be to have a very larger sign to get the kids attention to get them to our booth to begin with. Also to explain to the smaller children that there is nothing to be scared of in the pyramid and although it may be dark that there is a light in there.

9. REFERENCES, RESOURCES, OTHER INFORMATION

Bloom, J. W. (2006). Creating a classroom community of young scientists. New York, NY: Taylor & Frances Group.

http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/137/religion-god-theology/can-christians-explain-me-how-they-feel-about-constellation-mythology-485991/

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