First we learned that stars are actually balls of fire out in space. I lit a candle, and the kids, very carefully, crept close to look at the different colours in the flame. Then we learned that these were the colours of the stars too! White, yellow, blue and red.
Then we learned why we have stars and how we can use them. (To tell the seasons, navigation, give a little light at night). I used my lightbrite to show some constellations. I first covered the holes with block construction paper to represent the sky, and then poked in the pegs needed to make the constellation. I also had a picture or an object of what the constellation was supposed to look like so that the kids would be able to see the picture in the dots. I did the big dipper, Cassiopeia, Scorpio, and Orion.
Then we learned that our sun is actual a star! This was mind blowing. To demonstrate how big the sun is relative to the earth, I took out my largest Tupperware mixing bowl and put a single kernel of popcorn inside. Then I explained that the popcorn was like the earth and the bowl was like the sun. It wasn't exactly to scale, since about 4 million earths fit into the sun, but it got the point across.
Then we talked about why we need the sun. Warmth, light, grow plants, vitamin D, etc.
We made telescopes. I love this craft. First all the kids were given a piece of heavy card stock and they coloured it and decorated it however they wanted.
Then, the kids looked through their telescopes towards the sunlit window, and the light that came in through the pin holes looked like stars in the night sky. It was awesome. Alternatively, you could use a paper towel tube rather than card stock, but this looks prettier.
We watched a segment of a Bill Nye movie about solar eclipses. Cool stuff.
I was so pleased with this experiment! It was kind of a cool morning, even though the sun was shining, so I wasn't sure it would work, but it was GREAT!
The goal of this experiment was to teach the children that the sun has power and that people can use that power. On our picnic table in the yard, I set out two bowls with equal amounts of water. One was a white bowl, the other was a dark green. Then I set a clear larger bowl over top of the dark bowl, like a dome. We left it outside and didn't touch it until near the end of our day.
Then we took the kids outside and I removed the clear bowl from over the dark one, and we put a finger in each bowl of water to see if we could fell a difference in temperature. It was AWESOME! The water in the white bowl was still chilly, and the water in the dark bowl wasn't just lukewarm, it was like bath water! I was so pleased, and the kids liked feeling the water.
We made our own constellations. I had used a crafting hole-punch in advance to make lots of tiny stars, and then the kids designed a constellation like a dot-to-dot picture. This was my son's. He made an elephant and named his constellation "Horton." After the stars were in place, they used white glue on a toothpick to attach them to the night sky.