Constellation Science Project Ideas

Katelyn Michaud
Child viewing the stars

Did you know there are 88 constellations in the modern sky? While most people know the North Star and the Big Dipper, few people can find the other, lesser-known constellations. By using a printable star chart and helping children make constellation-related projects, you might help shape the next Stephen Hawking or Nancy Grace Roman.

Constellation Jar

The constellation jar is a fun project for young children to complete with the help of a parent. Children can use their jars afterward as a night light or enjoy a starry night on their ceiling. The project is appropriate for kids, ages four to eight.

Materials

  • Glass jar, mason or pickle jar works well
  • Aluminum foil
  • Sharp object for poking holes (e.g., skewer, pen, paper clip)
  • Marker
  • Printable star chart
  • LED press button light
  • Tape
  • Scissors

Instructions

  1. Children should make sure the jar is clean if they are recycling a food jar.
  2. Measure the aluminum foil around the outside of the jar. Make sure the foil overlaps about a half an inch. Cut the remaining foil off.
  3. Lay the foil flat on the table.
  4. Use the printable star chart to poke holes in the foil where stars are located.
  5. After the star holes have been poked, use a marker to trace the outline of the constellation.
  6. Repeat with as many constellations as the child would like.
  7. Once all the stars have been created in the foil, wrap the foil around the outside of the jar, taping it securely on the jar.
  8. Place one LED push button light in the jar.
  9. Shut off the lights or move to a dark closet to see a starry night appear before your eyes.

Star Projector

The star projector is a great project for young children (ages three to seven) to teach them to recognize the constellations. Children will be able to show their constellations on the wall with this cool projector.

Materials

  • Oatmeal tube container
  • Cardboard (e.g., cereal box, shoe box)
  • Scissors
  • Printable star chart
  • Flashlight
  • Pencil or thumb tacks
  • Black construction paper
  • Stickers, markers, crayons
  • Tape

Instructions

  1. The parent should cut the cardboard top out of the plastic ring of the oatmeal tub container.
  2. Cut a small hole to fit a flashlight in the bottom of the tube.
  3. The child can use black construction paper, stickers, markers or anything else to decorate the tube container.
  4. Trace the shape of the top of the oatmeal container on a piece of cardboard to make several circles.
  5. Cut the cardboard circles out.
  6. Place the printable star chart on top of a cardboard circle. Choose a constellation and poke holes in the cardboard using a pencil or thumb tack where the stars are located in the constellation.
  7. Label the constellation.
  8. Repeat with as many constellations as the child would like.
  9. Place one constellation in the top of the oatmeal tube.
  10. Place the flashlight in the bottom hole.
  11. Turn the lights off or move to a dark closet to see the constellation light up on the ceiling.

Fiber Optics Constellations

Not only will teenagers learn the constellations, but they will learn the basics of fiber optics and building a simple circuit. This project is appropriate for high school students.

Materials

Instructions

  1. Cut both ends of the resistor in half.
  2. Connect one end of the resistor to the red wire of the battery pack.
  3. Connect an Alligator lead wire to the other end of the resistor.
  4. Bend the ends of the LED bulb to form a 90-degree angle.
  5. Connect one end of the bulb to the black wire connecting to the battery pack and the other end to Alligator wire to form a circuit.
  6. Put the batteries into the battery pack and turn it on.
  7. If the light does not turn on, check to make sure the batteries are in the correct position or swap the wire leads on the light bulb around.
  8. Use a small shipping box to make the luminator. Cut three tabs on the left side of the bottom of the box. The first tab should have a small hole where the light bulb will rest. (See video for correct position.)
  9. The second two tabs should have a small notch where the fiber optics will sit.
  10. Use two pieces of double-sided tape or sticky foam to secure the battery pack inside the luminator box.
  11. Using two additional pieces of tape on the back wall of the luminator box, stick the resistor to the tape.
  12. Place the LED light bulb in the hole of the first tab.
  13. Place a printable star chart on top of a piece of black foam board.
  14. Use a thumb tack or other sharp object to make holes where the stars are located in the constellation.
  15. Trace the constellation on the black foam board with a white marker or crayon.
  16. Thread a single fiber optic strand through each of the star holes from the front.
  17. Pull the strands all the way through the holes until it is even with the foam board.
  18. Glue each strand in place from the back. Wait at least two hours or until the glue is dry.
  19. Once the fiber optic strands are dry, gather them into a single strand or bundle and loop a zip tie around them about an inch from the end.
  20. Glue the zip tie to the fiber optic bundle.
  21. Once the glue is dry, trim the end of the fiber optic strands and the tail of the zip tie.
  22. Guide the fiber optic bundle into the tabs of the luminator box in front of the LED light bulb.
  23. Place the black foam board in front of the luminator board and see your constellation light up.

Other Quick Projects

From simple projects using black construction paper and star stickers, to complicated LED lights, there is a variety of ways to introduce children of all ages to stars. Below are a few links to quick constellations projects for kids to do in the classroom or at home.

  • Star Sticker and Chalk Constellations - Armed with a few materials commonly found in the children's art supply section of most stores, kids can draw a few of the 88 constellations.
  • Paper Tube Telescope - Stargazing is always better with a telescope. Unfortunately, telescopes can be expensive and don't make a great play toy for young children. A paper tube telescope is a simple project children will love.
  • Make a Star Wheel - A star wheel is a circular map of the night sky that indicates where constellations are located based on latitude and longitude. Older children will love making a star wheel and using it to find their favorite constellations.

Constellation Projects for Kids

Stars are a fascinating topic, especially for young minds who are trying to make sense of the world. Introducing space and its celestial bodies to young children may spark a lifelong interest in stargazing.

Constellation Science Project Ideas