Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stars and Galaxies

We had a lot of fun with the chapter on stars and galaxies. First, we did the experiments in the book. Here Larkin is drawing stars on the inside of an umbrella to show how our view of the night sky changes throughout the year.
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In the next experiment, we measured the distance between the marks on the deflated balloon, then measured again once the balloon was inflated. This demonstrates the expansion of the universe - how every object in space is moving away from every other object.
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We made an astrometer out of cardboard and plastic wrap. Each rectangle is covered with a different number of sheets of plastic and lets in a different amount of light, so we can see the varying brightness of the stars. I was skeptical about this project; after all, the plastic is clear and not very thick. But it worked.
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Here are the kids poking holes in the pattern of constellations. The paper/foil constellations were placed over a can with a flashlight stuck through the other end of the can. Constellations in a closet!
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Some of our projects came from JaniceVanCleave's Astronomy For Every Kid. We learned about black holes with balloons, star brightness from a flashlight, and why you can't see individual stars when looking at a galaxy from earth.
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They each made a booklet of galaxy types with glue and powder. Powder, because we were out of glitter. Didn't really work that great. Oh well. They also made a constellation booklet, using white paint this time. Worked much better, of course.
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We read library books, made constellation eggs, and best of all, observed the night sky. It was so fun to go out at night with the kids and find the different constellations we had learned about. I have never been able to find anything but Orion's belt. Well, we went out and identified about 15 different constellations, individual stars, and a galaxy! It was such a neat experience for me. And there's so much more we can learn together.
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6 comments:

  1. Wow wow wow! We too are looking at space in a pretty relaxed way at the moment as Elijah has developed an interest in it. :) They look like fantastic experiments. And we too love to find constellations!!

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  2. Oooh how great! All your activities look like great fun! Having the whole family learning together is one of my favourite things about homeschooling! I'm glad you guys had fun!

    God Bless

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  3. How wonderful! We're starting Apologia next year and I am very excited - especially after seeing all these great experiments!

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  4. There is a wealth of learning in this posting! I like to read D'Aulaires Greek Myths for the stories behind many of the constellations. I like looking at the intensity of your little boy's face as he makes things. love, Beth

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  5. Here's a site your readers will enjoy!
    Take a virtual field trip with MEET ME AT THE CORNER, (www.meetmeatthecorner.org) Palomar Observatory for National Astronomy Day.

    Join our young host as he learns about the Observatory and the Hubble Telescope.
    This site offers links to fun websites including StarChild, NASA for Kids, Astronomy for kids and a link to The Galileoscope™ a high-quality, low-cost telescope kit developed for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 by a team of leading astronomers, optical engineers, and science educators. Kids can see the celestial wonders that Galileo Galilei first glimpsed 400 years ago and that still delight stargazers today. These include lunar craters and mountains, four moons circling Jupiter, the phases of Venus, Saturn's rings, and countless stars invisible to the unaided eye.

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