Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fun Astronomy Activity

We have been discussing Astrology in our classroom this week.  The kids have pretty much loved every minute of it.  Last fall, we took the kids to the homeschool day at NASA (see here).  That trip sealed the deal with their love for all things space related.

One of the activities in my son's 4th grade science book (ABEKA - Understanding God's World) was to make several small holes in two sheets of paper.  One sheet was white and the other sheet of paper was black.  Then you hold the sheets of paper up to the sun (one at a time), observing how the light shines through the holes.  With the white paper, the holes (or stars) are not as brilliant.  When we held up the black paper the stars were really bright.

This was our main discussion point:  Why do we only see stars at night?

During the daytime, the earth's atmosphere scatters the light from the sun.  This scattering makes the sky appear blue and it also makes the sky so bright that that we cannot see the stars.  If you were on the moon where there is no atmosphere, you could see the stars all day long. (ABEKA - Understanding God's World)

The white paper acts very much like the atmosphere, scattering the light and making the holes (stars) less vibrant.

The instructions were to make the holes in construction paper using a pin.  I thought it would be more fun to make the holes using our Light Bright.  The kids have always enjoyed playing with it and it brings back childhood memories for me.  The plan was simple, poke holes in your paper.  But, the kids took it to the next level and asked if they could copy the patterns of various constellations.

BRILLIANT!  What a creative idea!



They each took their turn with the Light Bright.  While it wasn't their turn they filled their time with other subjects.  Then we took the sheets of paper to the backyard and held them up to the sun.



In all honesty, they enjoyed making the constellations more than holding the paper up to the sun.  There was a moment when everyone was complaining that it was too bright outside.  :)  Oh well, it was still a fun activity.  All in all, I would definitely do this again but omit the outside part.  You could just hold the paper up to a light or even place a flashlight behind it.  


Side note: The boys were playing in the backyard last night when they ran in the house with lots of excitement.  They found Orion's Belt in the sky and were very proud of themselves! :)

This has absolutely nothing to do with the lesson.  My son wanted to make sure I captured his pose.  Fierce!

Happy star gazing!



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