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School and Educational Groups

We offer free planetarium shows for school or educational groups.

Using an Education and Public Outreach grant from the WV Space Grant Consortium, we developed a series of inquiry-based learning modules that target the WV astronomy objectives for grades K-6.  Each module consists of an educational video, a planetarium demonstration, and a hands-on exercise.  Each module is 1 hour in length.

The materials for each module are listed below.  Please browse the modules for a subject appropriate for your class.  Feel free to download and use any of the materials from the modules.

Our seating is limited to 40 people per show.

Reservations required.

Note: Please ensure that your kids are not wearing shoes that light up. The lights on these shoes are bright enough to wash out the sky in the planetarium.

Learning Modules

Kindergarten

Objective: Identify objects in the day and night sky

Video: Day & Night by Pixar

Planetarium Topic: What are the objects we see in the sky and when do we see them?

Demo: 1. Place the Sun and stars onto the day and night side of a piece of paper.  2. Place the full moon on the night side.  3. Place the cresent moon on the day side.  (use velcro to attach the objects onto the sky)

Handouts: sky.pdfskyobjects.pdf

1st Grade

Objective 1: Recognize that the Sun, moon, and stars appear to move

Objective 2: Observe and discuss the importance of objects in the day and night sky

Video: The Moon (module 2) by Audio-Visual Imagineering

Planetarium Topics: How does the sky move?  What changes do you see?  Where are the stars during the day?  Can the moon only be up during the day?  What if there were no Sun?  What does the Sun provide for us?

Demo: 1. Place the sky/star disk, the Sun, and the moon between the two sides of a piece of paper that has been folded along the dotted line.  2. Use a brass fastener to bind everything together.  3. Note that the Sun and moon can move differently from the whole sky. (Note also that the Sun and moon can get “stuck below the horizon” and will need to be dug out.)

Handouts: skymotion.pdf

2nd Grade

Objective 1: Explain how the rotation of the Earth on its axis causes day and night.

Video: Day & Night by Make Me Genius

Planetarium Topics: Why does the sky move?  Where is the Sun during the day/at night? How long does it take for the Earth to spin around 1 time?

Demo: 1. Use a light in the center of the room as the Sun.  2. Use a styrofoam ball on a stick as the Earth and place a pin on the ball.  3.  Observe when the pin is in daytime vs nighttime.  4. Identify on the handout when the pin is in daytime vs nighttime.

Handout: daynight.pdf

Objective 2: Understand that the moon has phases.

Video: The Moon (module 3) by Audio Visual Imagineering

Planetarium Topics: What does the moon look like?  Does it always look this way?  Do you see a pattern in how it changes?  Where is the missing part of the moon?  Where does the moon get its light?

Demo: Using velcro, attach each moon picture to its correct phase.

Handouts: moons.pdfplateinsertmoons.pdf

3rd Grade

Objective 1: Recognize the relative movement of the Earth and moon in relation to the Sun.

Video: Space Racers – Starling Discovers the Moon by Maryland Public Television

Planetarium Topics: How does the sky move during the course of 1 day?  Why does the sky move this way?  Look at the moon, how does it move from one night to the next?  Why does the moon move against the background stars?  Notice that the Sun also moves against the background stars.  Why is this?

Demo: 1. Sun-Earth-moon computer simulation by Class Action.  2. Using a brass fastener and the short black strip, attach the moon to the Earth.  3. Using a brass fastener and the long black strip, attache the Earth/moon to the Sun.

Handouts: earthmoonsunmodel.pdf

Objective 2: Describe the similarities and differences among the planets.

Video: Choose from one of these videos

  1. Show Me Science – Exploring Our solar System by TMW Media
  2. The Planets by Bill Nye
  3. The Magic School Bus Gets Lost in Space by Scholastic
  4. Space Racers – Where Are We by Maryland Public Television

Planetarium Topics: Whare are the planets found on the sky?  What does this mean about the shape of the Solar System?  Why do some planets move faster or slower against the background stars?  What is the difference between a planet and a star?  How do the planets shine?  How long would it take to travel to the different planets?  What are some of the differences between the planets?  Why are some called “dwarf planets”?

Demo: 1. Laminated planet cards.  2. Fill out the answers to the questions on the sheet using the info from the show and the planet cards.

Handouts: planetcards.pdf, planetmatching.pdf

4th Grade

Objective 1: Locate and identify patterns of stars and their change in location throughout the year.

Video: Show Me Science – Navigating the Constellations by TMW Media

Planetarium Topics: What are constellations? do you think that all cultures have the same constellations? Are the stars in a constellation gravitationally bound or related to each other in any way?  How do we (or ancient peoples) use constellations?  Notice how the Sun moves against the background stars.  What does this mean for what stars are in the night sky at different times of the year?

Demo: Cut out and assemble a star wheel that can be used to determine what stars are out at different times of the year and different hours of the day.

Handouts: starwheel.pdf

Objective 2: Identify the Sun as a star.

Video: Choose from one of the following videos

  1. The Little Star that Could by Audio-Visual Imagineering
  2. Show Me Science – The Sun: Heat, Light & Life by TMW Media

Planetarium Topics:  Look around the sky.  What differences do you see in the stars?  Why might these differences in brightness and color exist?  How does the Sun compare to the other stars you see on the sky?  How hot is the Sun?  What makes stars shine?  How are stars different from planets?  Where are stars born?  How do we use star clusters to learn about stars?

Demo: Use the nadout to identify the Sun as an average star in temperature, color, brightness and size

Handouts: stars.pdf

Objective 3: Explain the effects of alignment of the Earth, moon, and Sun on the Earth.

Video: The Moon by Bill Nye

Planetarium Topics: How does the sky move over the course of 1 day?  How does the moon move from night-to-night?  How does the shape of the moon change?  Do you see a pattern in how it changes?  Where does the moon get its light and why does the phase change?  What is meant by the terms “noon” and “midnight“?  Where is the Sun at these times?  Why do tides occur twice a day?

Demo:  Choose from one of the following demos

  1. A. Use a styrofoam ball on a stick and a light to model moon phases (your head is the Earth) and fill out the moon phase worksheet. B. Use a CD, bottle cap, string, and protractor to model the Earth-moon system and explain why eclipses are rare.
  2. Use a tide simulation video and identify spring and neap tides on a worksheet.

Handouts: moonphases.pdfTidesWS.pdf

Objective 4: Describe and explain the planets’ orbital paths.

Video: Choose from one of the following videos

  1. Comets & Meteors by Bill Nye
  2. Planets by Bill Nye
  3. Show Me Science – Comet: Visitor from Space by TMW Media

Planetarium Topics: Where do the planets appear in the sky?  What does this imply about the shape of the Solar System?  Why do some planets move faster and slower against the background stars?  Comets can approach the Sun from all over the sky.  What does this imply about the distribution of comets compared to planets?  How are comet orbits different from planet orbits?  When do we see comet tails?

Demo: Choose from one of the following demos

  1. A. Use orbit cards to demonstrate that planetary orbits are nearly circular whereas comet orbits are very elliptical. B. Identify on the worksheet whether the planet/comet has a nearly circular or very elliptical orbit.
  2. A. Use orbit cards to demonstrate that planetary orbits are nearly circular whereas comet orbits are very elliptical. B. Using velcro, place pictures of comets at their correct location in orbit around the Sun.

Handouts: cometorbit.pdf, comets.pdf, planetorbit.pdf

5th Grade

Note that there are no astronomy-related science objectives for grade 5 in WV’s science policy 2520.3.  Please choose a module from the 4th or 6th grade offerings that suits your needs.

6th Grade

Objective 1: Recognize the phases of the moon.

Objective 2: Investigate models of Earth-moon-Sun relationships (e.g. gravity, time, tides, or eclipses).

Video: The Moon by Bill Nye

Planetarium Topics: How does the sky move over the course of 1 day?  How does the moon move from night-to-night?  How does the shape of the moon change?  Do you see a pattern in how it changes?  Where does the moon get its light and why does the phase change?  What is meant by the terms “noon” and “midnight“?  Where is the Sun at these times?  Why do tides occur twice a day?

Demo: Choose from one of the following demos

  1. A. Use a styrofoam ball on a stick and a light to model moon phases (your head is the Earth) and fill out the moon phase worksheet (note that this is slightly more complicated than the 4th grade worksheet for this activity). B. Use a CD, bottle cap, string, and protractor to model the Earth-moon system and explain why eclipses are rare.
  2. Use a tide simulation video and identify spring and neap tides on a worksheet.

Handouts: moonphases6.pdf, TidesWS.pdf

Objective 3: Compare the Earth’s tilt and revolution to the seasonal changes.

Video: Earth’s Seasons by Bill Nye

Planetarium Topics: Notice that the Sun moves against the background stars.  Why is this?  Where is the Sun at different times of the year?  How high/low does the Sun get in the sky?  Can the Sun ever be directly overhead in Buckhannon?  Does the Sun appear th change size (get larger or smaller) at different times of the year?  When the Sun is high in the sky for the northern hemisphere, where is it for the southern hemisphere?  How does the Sun appear to move at the poles?  Do you notice a correlation between the seasons and how high the Sun is in the sky?

Demo: A. Use flashlights to see how the the sunlight gets spread out or more concentrated depending on the angle that the sunlight strikes the ground.  B. Use the handout to identify the Earth’s tilt as the reason for the seasons and not the distance between the Earth and Sun (the Earth’s orbit is very nearly circular and the Earth is actually closest to the Sun during northern hemisphere winter).

Handouts: seasons.pdf