The Night Sky - An Intro to NGSS MS ESS1-1

In the Night Sky mini unit, students learn about a favorite constellation, figure out how to find north, analyze their observations of the night sky and share what they learn through a video. Students create their own data table and record observations of stars and the moon.

Extension activities include creating an alien with adaptations for a planet in our solar system. This mini unit is an excellent introduction to astronomy and preparation for NGSS MS ESS1-1!

Anchor Phenomenon Ideas: Show images of your favorite constellation, phase of the moon or planet you can see from Earth. You can search images by topic at NASA's image gallery. Talk about the most interesting things your students have seen in the night sky and use the authentic questions they come up with to make connections throughout your unit.

Make it Relevant: Give students the freedom to wonder in this unit and encourage them to learn about what interests them. There are so many questions kids have about the sky... give them the space and freedom to find answers to their questions.

Sample of student data table for question five.

Tips and Tricks: Check out NASA's Space Place for general information about constellations and their Star Finder site for lists of visible constellations by month.

Click here for a copy of our suggested calendar for teachers and students for this unit.

Enrichment Ideas: Try this Makerspace project as a creative outlet for your students!

First, students listen to the folk tale How the Stars Came to Be by Poonam Mistry and learn of the young girl who carefully placed each star in the sky.

Then, students create their own 3D star; build a constellation with wood, nails and yarn; and draw their own illustration inspired by beautiful art from the story.

You can choose to complete one or all of the projects and use any materials you have on hand.

Although this Makerspace unit was written for an elementary setting, we've found that middle school students love expressing themselves through creative projects - especially in science!