Asterisms Unit: Create Your Own Asterism Activity

Lesson History
School Franklin Middle School
Class 8th Grade Science
Date(s) October 3, 2003
Learning Objective

The objective of this lesson is to familiarize students with those patterns they are likely to see on a semi-clear city evening in advance of the star party on October 22, 2003.

National Standard(s)

Sci.I.1.E.6 Construct charts and graphs and prepare summaries of observation.

ELA.2.MS.1 Write fluently for multiple purposes to produce compositions, such as personal narratives, persuasive essays, lab reports, and poetry.

ELA.4.MS.5. Recognize and use levels of discourse appropriate for varied contexts, purposes, and audiences, including terminology specific to a particular field. Examples include community building, an explanation of a biological concept, comparison of computer programs, commentary on an artistic work, analysis of a fitness program, and classroom debates on political issues.

ELA.5.MS.2. Describe and discuss shared issues in the human experience that appear in literature and other texts from around the world. Examples include quests for happiness and service to others.

ELA.5.MS.3. Identify and discuss how the tensions among characters, communities, themes, and issues in literature and other texts are related to one’s own experience.

ELA.8.MS.1. Select and use mechanics that enhance and clarify understanding. Examples include paragraphing, organizational patterns, variety in sentence structure, appropriate punctuation, grammatical constructions, conventional spelling, and the use of connective devices, such as previews and reviews.

There is no standard in social studies requiring students to learn anything about the Greeks or Romans that I can find at all!

  1. How do structures and processes relate to energy and its use?
  2. How do differences in scale affect processes with which we are familiar?
Driving Question
  1. What can be observed in the night sky?
  2. How do our observations of the night sky link us with civilizations thousands of years old?
as Related to Objective

This lesson relates to the first driving question because the asterisms they create will actually be visible in the night sky. I hope that by writing their own story about their own asterism it will increase their desire to go out and observe on their own.

This lesson relates to the second driving question in two ways. First, like the ancient Greeks they are composing stories to explain the world around them: in this case the stars they will be seeing. Second, they will be reviewing what they learned about the parts of a(n ancient Greek) myth from their English class.

Students learn what a myth is and how to write one from English.

Students know how to read a star chart from lecture.

Instructor Preparation
Just photocopying the dittos and possibly manipulating the ArcView file to print the correct view of the sky. 20 minutes or less should do it.
Materials Needed
Resource What is it? File(s)
Asterism Worksheet

This gives some background on what an asterism is and how it differs from a constellation. Because the students will keep this handout in their notebooks, it gives extra information that students (especially advanced students) can read at their leisure.

On the back is the assignment: to write a one-page myth about an asterism that they create. A star chart for the night they will be observing was pasted below the directions.

Star Party Night Sky
This is an image of the night sky on the night of the star party. I made it in my Urban Planning class. The copy I printed for my students showed roughly the October night sky as viewed from Michigan.

Star Chart

Myth Framework Sheet
This was given to students as a guide. It shows the elements for a myth and is identical to the one they could use to guide their research of an existing constellation or asterism.

not yet online

needs to be updated to change he to s|he

Activity Time
One class period. If students don't finish it, they can take it home for homework. If students finish early, I introduce them to the planets box and let them start researching a planet .
Instructional Strategies (Science Instruction pg. 244)
This comes near in the middle of a short unit on asterisms. It gives students a chance to use their creativity to explore the placement of stars in the heavens.
Instructional Sequence
  1. Remind them of the research they did yesterday.
  2. Explain that they will be creating their own asterism today and writing a myth about it. "You will have a choice: You can either write a one-page essay on your asterism," (groans) "or you can write just half a page" (cheers) "on two different asterisms that you create."
  3. Then explain about the planet box .
  4. "Are there any questions? If not, you may get to work." Walk around observing what asterisms the students are making. Make sure the students stay on task. Once students have finished their asterism, they may do any polishing of their researched asterism essay. Anyone completely done may get an article from the planet box and read that.
  5. Remember to get them to return resources about five minutes BEFORE the end of the hour.
I read their essays. I looked both at length (a page has to be a page guys!) and content (does their story go with the asterism they created, is it interesting and memerable, will it help them remember their asterism).
This unit was part of Greek day: a team wide event in the 8th grade. Math, English, social studies, and science are all doing activities related to the English unit on ancient Greek myths. I am having students create a myth to go along with their asterism. It is my hope that those myths will help students remember their asterisms.
How it Went/Lessons Learned

This lesson went very well. Students enjoyed creating their own asterism, though they fought needing to write a page about it.

Unit: Journals, Assets, Lecture, Research, Create-Your-Own, Star Party
Home Page, About Me, ePortfolio, Lesson Plans, Papers, Old Site

Daniel D. Slosberg |
October 25, 2003