by Cath Adams
A few weeks ago I was asked by a work colleague if I would help the children of a local Beavers Group out with their Astronomy Badge. Of course I said yes and then set about recruiting help as I was told there could be around 20 to 30 children! Fortunately the first person I asked, Richard Harvey, said he would come along and help.
To gain the Astronomy Badge the Beavers need to:-
- Point out things you can see in night sky, such as The Moon, Stars or a Planet.
- Point out and name at least one constellation you can see.
- Name the eight planets in our Solar System.
- Find out about a current space mission.
I decided to plan the work over two sessions as I felt it might be too much to cover in one week, especially as I was advised a lot of the group were of the younger age range.
To start the session I decided to test the water and see how much the children already knew about the planets in our Solar System, asking them if they could name any planets. They did very well and the only one they did not get without any prompting was Uranus. Though interestingly a few children named Pluto as a planet, there were a few confused faces as myself and Richard explained it was no longer classed as a planet.
We also did a question and answer session, one little boy was particularly interested in the rockets that went to the Moon and liked to demonstrate how a rocket went up, very entertaining.
Next the plan was to do some observing and let the children look at stars through a telescope. Richard and I had both turned up with our telescopes but the clouds were not allowing us to see anything! So we had to improvise, fortunately Richard has his trusty Moon Map so he put it up on the wall and set his telescope so the children could look at the Moon through a telescope. It was so effective and the children loved it, Richard did a great job showing them different areas of the Moon.
Whilst Richard was showing one group of children the Moon and explained about the telescope, I worked with another group of children to name the planets and put them in the correct order from the Sun out to Neptune.
As we arrived it was obvious that the weather was not on our side, sadly no chance of clear skies for the children to us the telescopes.
I started the session off with a brief presentation about the International Space Station as one of the objectives of the Astronomy Badge is to learn about a current space mission. The children listened and asked lots of questions about life on ISS and also about us living on the Moon and Mars in the future which Richard and I answered between us. They also got a chance to look through some books on the planets.
The second half of the session was on Constellations, I showed a brief presentation about what a constellation is and showed some images of the more well know constellations. After this we split the children into groups and asked them to build then constellations they had seen. The children were given silver paper circles to represent the stars and then in their group they laid them on the floor to make the constellation, with a little help from me and the Beaver Group leaders. The children were also given another opportunity to look through the telescope; Richard supervised this and did a great job of showing them how to use a telescope. Here are a couple of pictures; on the left is one of the Orion Constellation, laid out by my group. One the right is one of the children learning how to use a telescope.