Astronomy is a fascinating area of science with new discoveries being made just about every day, it seems. Just this month, there was a lunar eclipse. And also, a discovery was announced of a solar system with a planet much like our Jupiter with its moons.
Elementary school students are of a good age to begin teaching about the sky and those wonderful far away objects that fill it.
Since there are many different sizes and colors of stars, we could begin with a study of the stars themselves. With construction paper and poster board, the young student could cut, paste and label different stars in order of size, showing the different colors. From dwarfs to giants, to those that change in their light, the possibilities are exciting for such a project. Below each ‘star’, the student could make a short listing of each star’s attributes that make it unique from all the other stars.
And stars are grouped into constellations and galaxies. The student could be given the task of naming the most famous or well-known constellations in the night sky where they reside as well as in the other hemisphere. Some students may not be aware of the differences that they may see in their night sky as opposed to those in the other hemisphere. With a project to draw these and name them, they would become more familiar with those they do not see each night. This would increase the interest in people in other parts of the world as well as the universe around us all.
Most adults are familiar with the Milky Way Galaxy, but are our elementary students? It would be a challenge for them to name the closest stars in our galaxy and also name the galaxy nearest to the Milky Way. A packet of sticky stars could be purchased along with poster board for a colorful display showing these features of our universe.
Not to be forgotten, the student could be given the challenge of making an art project of the solar system we inhabit. Since the planets are different sizes, they could be represented by different fruits, such as grapefruit for the sun, orange for Jupiter, lemons, peaches, cherries and other fruits for the remaining planets. Of course, the actual fruit wouldn’t have to be used. Just a drawing would do the trick to teach the student the difference in size of the planets around them.
These are just a few of the possibilities that present with teaching Astronomy to elementary school students. What a wonderful topic for discussion and follow through with interesting projects to engage the young person in learning about the bright, but far-away Universe.