This weekend The Nerdy Nanny was at Mounts Botanical Gardens in West Palm Beach for their Story Book Village! Dozens of authors, guardians ad litem and volunteers brought books and activities, all along a theme. This years theme was
‘What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up?’
With that as the theme, what could I possibly bring other than my first book
‘The Girl and Her Stars’
A number of studies over the years have shown how girls and boys express equal interest in science, across the board, through elementary school. It isn’t until later, usually around middle school, that interest begins to wane at much higher rates amongst girls than boys.
There are dozens of reasons for this, but some of the biggest are linked to representations and pre-conceptions within education. Women have, historically, not been recognized for their contributions in science, leaving girls with no image of themselves to look up to. Additionally, because of these trends teachers can sometimes be guilty of assuming girls will be less interested and therefor failing to encourage any remaining interest. By re-establishing that link between women and science through early childhood representation, we can reconnect girls with something that they were already fascinated by and give them a fighting chance to move forward.
Fun Crafts for STEM
For the Story Book Village last weekend we made ‘Star Scopes’, aka Constellation Projectors. A tube or container serves as the base of your projector, allowing for decorations on the outside. A perforated lid creates pinprick holes in different sizes, shapes, and patterns. Adding an electric fire safe tea light to the bottom lets light escape through the holes, projecting patterns of stars on the ceiling and bringing constellations to life in a magical way.
These are super easy to make and can be readily scaleable, adjusting for kids as young as five or as old as thirty-three, as the case may be.
We are going to list and describe the materials that we used to make Star Scopes this past weekend. But Constellation Projectors can be made from almost any solid container that is not see-through with a removable lid at least an inch and a half wide.
Star Scope Craft Materials
- Cardboard tube, any size, – for the ‘body’ of the projector
- Black construction paper, bigger than the opening of the tube – for the ‘lense’
- Colored Paper – to wrap around the ‘body’
- Tape / glue
- An electric tea light
- Hole punchers or a pen tip – to make holes in the ‘lens’
- Decorating Materials; crayons, colored pencils, markers, paints, etc. *The choice is entirely up to you, it comes down to artistic preference vs. mess.
- *Optional – a printed constellation the same size as your ‘lens’
At Story Book Village we were lucky enough to have heavy-duty 4-inch diameter cardboard tubes donated to us by Bargain Bob’s Flooring in Riviera Beach which we then cut into 4-inch tall sections. These were a lot easier for the kids to use, as the ‘lens’ was larger and therefore easier to poke holes in without rupturing and can be found at almost any flooring or hardware store if you know the right person to ask.
Unless you are doing this for an entire class though, you probably don’t need 10 feet worth of tube. In that case, just about any tube or even container will work, tough my favorites, due primarily to accessibility and price, are toilet paper tubes, paper towel tubes, and Pringles cans. We also used construction paper held in place with tape rather than glue, and crayons for decorating. Because we were outside and had kids from a broad range of ages attending, using glue was ruled out early on as too messy and slow to dry. Paints were nixed for similar reasons. But if you are doing this at home, these options might work better for you.
Gather your chosen supplies before you begin and set yourself up either at a table or on a clear section of the floor. Make sure you have enough room and, if you are going to be using paints or glue, put down a sheet or protective layer before you start.
Do you have everything together? Are you sure? Read through the list one more time just to check – – – ok, let’s do this thing.
How to Make a Constellation Projector
Step One – Prepare Your Scope
Once you have your tube, make sure that it is clean, dry and level. If you are using a toilet paper, paper towel, or pringles tube this should be relatively easy. Pick off any last bits of paper or glue and you are done. If you are doing this in a class, write your initials on the inside of the tube so that you make sure you know which one is yours.
Step Two – Decorate Your Scope
For younger kids, start by cutting a piece of colored paper in the size of your tube. It is easier to decorate your paper before you wrap it around the tube.
Once the paper is cut to the right size, draw color or decorate any way you want. Use crayons, colored pencils, markers, stickers, paint, glitter or anything else want to work with!
If you are going to use any ‘wet’ methods to decorate, such as paint or glitter glue, you may need to wait for your scope covers to dry before you try and attach them to your scope.
Step Three – Create Your Lens
Trace your tube against a piece of study black construction paper and carefully cut out the paper along the line.
To create the star pattern in your lense, you can either print out a constellation you desire in the size of your lense and punch holes to match that pattern or create your own pattern. Most younger kids prefer to take the DIY approach.
Use a pen tip or hole punchers of various sizes to poke holes through your lense to allow the light to escape.
Step Four – Put it all together.
It is time to assemble! Use tape or glue to secure your scope cover to the outside of your tube and fix your ‘lens’ in place. If you used a Pringles can, you can actually put your ‘lens’ inside the clear top of the can and create different interchangeable patterns.
Place your fire safe electric tea light in the bottom of the tube, turn off the lights, and dream of your stars…
We now have a YouTube channel!! You can check out all the instructions for how to make your own Star Scope HERE.