Constellation Ursa Major (UMa)
This is one of a collection of 3D constellations used to teach astronomy to the visually impaired. The diameter of the raised stars indicate the relative brightness. Raised lines connect the stars. It is scaled to 100 mm diameter. The stars can be painted with model aircraft enamel to make them more visible to those with limited vision. These can be easily moved around on a magnet board by adding magnetic material to the back (heating duct cover material). Each constellation is numbered rather than labeled directly for use as a classroom identification quiz. A bead chain loop is on the top of the disk. Project site: http://www.rovingbits.com/StarCoins/index.htm
Use aircraft model enamel to paint raised stars
Lesson Plan and Activity
Sample Lesson Plan
Introduce what a star is and how it produces light in the sky. Stars are essentially balls of fire. Our sun is the closest star. At great distances stars are faint with some so dim they cannot be seen without a telescope to magnify the light. Magnitude is the term used for the brightness of a star.
Note how people have seen patterns in random positions of the stars throughout history. Astronomers refer to each pattern or group of stars in the sky as a constellation. There are 88 modern constellations as described by the International Astronomical Union.
Hand out the star coins. Note that each point on the disk is a star. The diameter represents the star's magnitude (brightness). Lines between the stars make connections that relate to the name given to that constellation.
Explain the story behind each constellation.
Each constellation is numbered for an identification quiz.
Have students arrange the constellations in the correct orientation on the magnet board.
A set of 3D constellations with magnet backing.
Metal magnet boards, 2' x 3' for each student or group of students
Rubric and Assessment
Evaluation and Disussion
How many modern constellations are there?
What term is used to describe the brightness of a star?
Why did people think they saw patterns among the stars in the sky?
What other patterns do you perceive in the tactile stars?
Do you think different cultures have seen different star patterns in the sky?
ESS.35.5c - Identify what can be found in the solar system.
Use evidence, scientific knowledge to develop explanations.