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Astronomy Education for Schools, Clubs, and the Public


Dayle's Starlab Planetarium
(1990 - 2006)

Program List

TITLE (Suggested Grade Level) DESCRIPTION: As described, the programs last about an hour unless otherwise noted. They may be modified for shorter presentations if necessary.

Programs are based on NATIONAL SCIENCE STANDARDS. Correlations are included with each Teacher's Guide.

Please note:

All hands-on materials will be provided.
However, you may wish to use the instructions included in the Teacher's Guide to have participants build their own tools to bring with them to the planetarium or as a follow-up activity.

THE WANDERERS (5-12) Participants will obsrve the apparent motion of a planet through the night sky and gain an understanding of why they were named "planets", from the Greek, meaning "wanderers". Students will observe and model the constellations along the Ecliptic, through which the planets wander (the Zodiac). Discussion will cover Roman and Greek mythologies associated with the planets.

MR. BEAR & FRIENDS (1-2) Stuffed animals and simple shapes are used to help young children learn about the sky. They will identify simple geometric patterns in the sky and listen for clues to the identities of constellations in the current night sky. Children will hold and share a cuddly Big Bear, Little Bear, Draco the Dragon, and other friends while enjoying a starry sky.

OUR NEIGHBOR, THE MOON (3-8) Students will observe, predict, and model the phases of the moon as it revolves around our planet through a starry sky. In addition, participants will model eclipses of the sun and moon.

COLORS OF LIGHT (5-9) Participants will examine the information to be learned from stars by the color of their light. We will travel to a planet under a red star to see what the world would look like. The program will examine the eye's reaction to light and color. Rods and cones will be explained. Participants will experience the loss of color vision in the controlled lighting of the planetarium and understand why it is difficult to determine the color of stars at night. Students will experiment with colors of light, using diffraction gratings and "color analyzers" to predict the true colors on our "mystery cloth" and mixing the primary colors of light to create white light.

LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN (5-12) After a look at the sky at our latitude here in Michiana, students are taken north of the Arctic Circle to visit Alaska and Norway. Participants predict and observe sunrise/sunset points at these high latitudes at different times of the year to see how it is possible to see the sun and midnight during the summer, as well as having 24 hours of darkness in the winter. Ancient legends and superstitions about the Aurora Borealis are presented and an explanation of the causes of the Northern Lights is given.

ANCIENT SKIES (6-12) This program takes archaeology into the sky. Students will examine and model how ancient civilizations studied and recorded celestial events. Archaeoastronomy gives participants clues about ancient cultures and mythologies.

TWINKLE, TWINKLE, LITTLE STAR (PreK-1) This is a shorter program designed to allow very young participants to become familiar with a planetarium setting. The concept of "model" is introduced with toys when the youngsters enter our "model" of the sky. They encourage the stars to shine while singing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", and then let the stars "dance on their fingers" as they reach into the model starfield. (20 - 30 minutes)

TREASURE ISLAND (6-adult) In this presentation, students explore some of the navigational tasks that would have been encountered by the characters in the fictional trip to "Treasure Island", by Robert Louis Stevenson. Participants will work in small "crews" to seek treasure. They will determine their approximate latitude on earth by measuring the altitude of the north star using a model of a mariner's astrolabe. They will determine their approximate longitude given the time in Greenwidh and their local time, and plot their estimated position on earth by means of a map using latitude and longitude. The winning "crew" will receive "treasure" (Gold foil-wrapped candy or other treat).

TIME AND THE SUN (3-9) A simple sundial will be used to illustrate the apparent daily motion of the sun, as well as the reason for time zones. Then visitors will observe and record on lab sheets the apparent motion of the sun during each of the four seasons. Students will discover the changing sunrise/sunset points, as well as the changing amounts of daylight experienced here in Michiana during a year.

FOLLOW THE DRINKING GOURD (3-5) Participants will hear the story of the Underground Railroad and the part played by the night sky. They will practice locating the "Drinking Gourd" (Big Dipper) in the northern sky and using it to find the North Star. Students will observe the Circumpolar Constellations that never set in the north here in Michiana. They will use Star Clocks to tell time using the stars.

MYTHOLOGY AND THE STARS (4-12) Participants will receive and use sky maps to locate and identify the characters of mythology in the constellations, stars, and planets. They will hear some of the mythologies associated with these objects and compare Greek, Roman, and other cultures' myths.

EXPLORING THE NIGHT SKY (3-adult) Participants will receive and learn how to use sky maps to explore the constellations to be seen during the season of the program. Students will work in small groups to predict the locations of constellations and present their findings to the group. Visible planets will be identified and located as well as any other space phenomena currently in the night sky.

NATIVE AMERICAN SKYLORE (3-8) This program contains a variety of traditional Native American legends and myths about the sky. They were collected from Indian nations all across the United States and Canada. This is a perfect program to tie astronomy to a social studies unit on Native Americans or with an English unit on literature.



Your students can meet Ms. Brown and learn about writing and illustrating a book. The talk will focus on researching and writing a non-fiction book. They will see some of the original watercolor illustrations and discover techniques for creating authentic, yet original works that reflect the artistic style of the cultures represented.


Plan a FAMILY EVENT for families to spend 1-2 hours together in the evening or on weekends learning about "The Planets", "The Solar System", "The Moon", or "Constellations". There will be hands-on activities, games, and lots to take home so you can do more!


Hands-on activities for astronomy/space science in the classroom! Astronomy lessons to supplement your math, science, social studies, and literature curriculum!