Astronomy Unit Study: Unit 13 – Stars and the Kuiper Belt

The last post for our astronomy unit! This week we learnt all about the Stars and the Kuiper Belt.

Stars and the Kuiper Belt: Reading and Note Taking

I had the girls partnership read their way through the penultimate chapter:

Stars and the Kuiper Belt

They wrote notes, trying to include all they remembered:

Stars and the Kuiper Belt

Stars and the Kuiper Belt: Twinkling Stars

This was a great little demonstration to help the girls understand why the stars seem like they are twinkling. They covered small stones in foil and placed them in a bowl full of water:

The foils covered stones represented the stars and the water represented our atmosphere. Abs shone a torch on them:

Nothing happened. Abs then shook the bowl whilst Becs shone a light on the foil stars:

Stars and the Kuiper Belt

This time they twinkled:

Stars appear to twinkle because the light travelling from them is affected by the changing atmosphere around the earth. The atmosphere experiences changes when the wind blows or the temperatures change. The moving water in the bowl interrupts the foil star’s light travel and they appear to twinkle just like the real stars in the sky.

Stars and Kuiper Belt: Showing how Stars Appear to Travel Around the North Star

For this demonstration, the girls nicked Gary’s umbrella and coloured in the middle silver (shhhh, don’t tell him, he’ll never know… unless he reads this, and then he’s bound to find out. Sorry baby!). The silver represented the North Star which from our place in the northern hemisphere, always appears in the same place in the sky:

The girls then stuck gold stars in various formations in each divided compartment:

One of the girls held it up high in the sky:

I decided to lie underneath it to capture the way that the stars seemed to travel around the North Star:

Becca began twirling the umbrella:

You can see the North Star stays where it is whilst the stars seem to travel around it:

Stars and the Kuiper Belt

Polaris, the North Star, appears stationary in the sky because it is positioned close to the line of Earth’s axis projected into space. As such, it is the only bright star whose position relative to a rotating Earth does not change. All other stars appear to move opposite to the Earth’s rotation beneath them. (Physlink):

Stars and the Kuiper Belt

Stars and the Kuiper Belt: Mapping Constellations

We went out to an unlit hill to look at the stars:

Stars and the Kuiper Belt
Stars and the Kuiper Belt

We used our star light upstairs in the littles bedroom:

Stars and the Kuiper Belt
Stars and the Kuiper Belt

The girls drew some of the constellations into their work books:

Stars and the Kuiper Belt

Stars and the Kuiper Belt: An End of Unit Treat – Ice-Cream

I collected together some cream, some vanilla essence, rock salt, ice and powdered sugar:

The cream, sugar and vanilla was placed in a small zip lock bag:

And placed into a larger zip lock bag filled with ice. It was shaken, first by Becca:

And then by Abs:

Until it turned into an ice-cream…of sorts:

The girls liked it though, and that’s all that mattered.

Revising the Whole of the Solar System

We had a board game left over from the older ones which the girls played together. We were pleasantly surprised by all they knew:

Becca had premade a ‘prize’ and gave it to herself when she won 🙂

Field Trip to the Space Centre in the Science Museum

What a great end to a great unit! We will be moving onto Botany next

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