Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Constellation Narration

I did a constellation chart with my daughter when she was about nine years old. It turned out to be quite beautiful. When she was a teen we attended a Royal Astronomical Society meeting and set up a private tour of the local observatory to explain further what astronomy was all about. That inch wide but deep work we did instilled a fascination for the subject that has now lasted ten years. She is even taking astronomy as an elective course in university.

I have a few young students this year and thought it would be nice to revisit this subject. We read the same book; it's not fabulous but for an introduction it works. What is great about it is that the constellations are presented in an order that makes it easy to jump from one star group to another. I have my students carefully copy out each constellation as it relates to one they already know. I have them do it in their nature notebooks going back to the same page so as to get as many of the constellations together within one picture.

My eight year old student insisted that each constellation had it's own box, she is at a stage where even her copy work has boxes around each entry. I was concerned that she wouldn't retain the relationships between all the star groupings.

Once they narrated what they knew of the position of the constellation they were allowed to pin it onto their star chart:

 We had been adding one constellation a week since September. We then had a six week break over the Christmas holidays and I thought I would find out what they still knew about the constellations when we met again in January. I asked them to draw their star chart from memory with their proper names.

I was amazed. They both were able to recall each constellation and place them fairly close to their correct positions. I, too, did this exercise. I do have them all in my nature notebook but do not have a star chart of my own. I was able to recall that there were eight constellation but could only draw in five and name four.

Everyone needs a star chart.