Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Milky Way chalk art
I am teaching a week long day camp at my church, which we call Chalice Camp, and yesterday was the first day. With 13 children between the ages of 4-10 years, we spent a day reading about the Big Bang, the Universe, and Constellations and doing several related projects.
One project, which in practice didn't go off as well as I had hoped but which I still think is a very cool idea, was this scale model sketch of the Milky Way. Mine was done very simply, with just chalk and estimations for each arm within the Milky Way. We established the overall diameter with a measuring tape, and then a group of kids worked on making the black hole in the center. Ours is not black, because they had all colored chalk and the black hole "sucked them all in" (the being sucked in was their idea). To be true to scale, the stars should just be dots, but artistic vision trumped science on that one, and the kids went to town making big beautiful stars for our galaxy.
So our short little project was a fun, but less than precise, affair, that did give some idea of the scale and geometry of the galaxy but was still accessible for 4 year olds. If you want to see how to do it right if you have more time and older students, my inspiration came from my DRE role model at First Unitarian Church in Worcester, Mass. In turn, she was inspired and assisted by the creator of The Galaxy Garden. Check out both of these projects!