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Astronomy for 8th graders...what are my options?


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My son wants to study astronomy for science next year.  The ones I have found aren't all astronomy...they are also weather and other earth science topics.  Are there any programs that would be a year long astronomy course?  I would greatly prefer that they be Christian based. 

 

Do I have any options? 

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Apologia has an Astronomy book. I haven't used it, but I think it's elementary level, not middle school. I imagine you could use it as a spine and add additional reading or something to bulk it up some.

 

Sorry, I haven't seen anything else, so hopefully someone else will have some good resources for you.

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We are doing a combination of H.A. Rey's The Stars, Exploring the World of Astronomy by Tiner, sitting in on family lessons from the astronomy unit of Science in the Beginning, and some other living books and documentaries.

 

We started with Signs and Seasons, but have switched to what I listed above, and it's going better.

Edited by KeriJ
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The Tiner books are history of the field more than they are science books. My rising 8th would finish the astronomy one in a couple/few weeks at best.

 

I'm also looking for astronomy for a rising 8th grader, but none of the Christian based options seem worth it for this age. If you are considering secular options Understanding the Universe DVD set from Great Courses looks really good. (Don't fall over on the price. They go on huge discounts all the time and can be found used too.)

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I'm teaching astronomy to my 9th grader this year.  I doubt you'll want to do everything I'm doing, but here are my notes from my planning pages of what we're doing this year.  You can pull out any ideas you like from if it they fit your needs.  You probably will want to check out the activities we've done.  They've all been great, except for the spectroscope which didn't work.  But my son wants to fiddle with it a bit more and see if he did something wrong and can get it working (it's just a cardboard box with a reflective CD on the inside and a hole on the side for light to shine through.)

 

As someone else said, if you consider getting a Great Course, wait for the one you want to go on sale.  I've never bought a course at less than 70% off.  They go on sale All The Time.  Every week a new set are on sale, and at various times in the year, they're ALL on sale at the same time.

 

For the Great Course "Understanding the Universe" you can also get the textbook written by the teacher for it.  We didn't bother with the textbook for our class.  

 

Great Course:

Understanding the Universe by Filippenko:

96 lectures--answer the questions

 

Great Course:

Our night sky

Plumb for ideas of what to go out and see at night 

 

Local Astronomical Society Meetings (monthly)

Attend 9-10 meetings

 

Book:

Death by Black Hole

Find thesis of each of each article, jot down 2 interesting things in each.

 

Book:

Contact

Read for fun

 

Book:

Rocket Boys

Then Movie: October Sky

Read for fun then watch the movie that was based on the book

 

Book: 

The Stars, by H.A. Rey

 

Go outside and observe with telescope

 

 

My son was supposed to go outside every night for a month and fill in a calendar page with the phases of the moon.  We tried it for two different months and each month he'd forget to go out after about 10 days into the project and I got tired of reminding him, so it never was finished.  It was a nice idea, though...

 

 

Below are the activities we've done/will do this year.  There are only 2 we haven't done (charting a star's magnitude and looking at sunspots using the shadow of the sun cast by a telescope.)

 

These are my own personal, messy notes that I made to myself.  I just cut and pasted them here, so the're not refined for someone else to read, but here they are:

 

1*Phases of the moon (here's a video showing how we could do it.  Another one suggests doing it outside when the moon is visible in the daytime.)

In room with lamp one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wz01pTvuMa0

Daytime one: http://astrosociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/DaytimeMoon.pdf

Phases of the moon: how you can see a new moon at night.  https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/nasa/measuringuniverse/spacemath1/p/animate-phases-of-the-moon

 

 

2*If the entire hx of the universe was represented as a calendar, then when did certain events occur: http://www.astrosociety.org/edu/astro/act2/H2_Cosmic_Calendar.pdf

 

 

3*Remember the egg.  Teaches the eye to look for variations on smooth white surfaces.  http://www.astrosociety.org/education/remember-the-egg/

 

 

4*Light pollution (will look at the same constellation at different places to see if they can see more of the stars when it's darker. http://www.astrosociety.org/edu/publications/tnl/44/lightpoll4.html#4

 

 

5*Maybe: chart how a star's magnitude gets brighter and dimmer over a month of time. http://www.astrosociety.org/edu/publications/tnl/32/starscience3.html

 

 

6*High school level crater demonstrations. Need a bunch of supplies--may be difficult to find.

http://www.astrosociety.org/edu/publications/tnl/23/crater2.html

ENDED UP using flour and hot chocolate mix, marbles, and three other balls (ping pong, rubber, golf) without a slingshot.  Just dropped the balls into the flour filled pan and made the observations.  The supplies in the above link were a headache to find.

 

 

7*How high is space?  Calculate and make a drawing to actual scale.

http://www.astrosociety.org/edu/activities/I11_How_High_Space.pdf

 

 

8* Show a scale of how big the planets are and  far the planets are from each other

 

 Will take miles or parts of miles of length: (LARGE)

http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/solar_system/index.html

Amazon link to feet measuring wheel so know how far to walk between planets.  https://www.amazon.com/1000FT-Walking-Counter-Survey-Measuring/dp/B004L181E6/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

FOR THE ABOVE:  we did the Large version.  First we drew a sun in chalk on the ground that was 10 foot in diameter and then filled in the planets to scale (they were tiny) inside our chalk drawing of the sun.  Then we drew a sun that was only 5 inches across and walked about 1/4 mile, plotting how far the planets would be from the sun, to scale.  This was a favorite.

 

If you want to keep the scale smaller, then these are smaller options:

Using 1 meter of paper. (SMALL)

http://astrosociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/PocketSolarSystem.pdf

*Show a scale of how far the planets are from each other using a 200 sheet roll of TP  (MEDIUM)

http://www.astrosociety.org/edu/family/materials/toiletpaper.pdf

 

 

9*See sunspots.  Use tracing paper to see how they change over a period of time.

http://astrosociety.org/edu/publications/tnl/05/stars2.html

 

 

10*Make a pan cookie using chocolate chips to create constellations from a template of actual constellations.

http://www.astrosociety.org/edu/family/materials/constellationcookies.pdf

 

 

11*Build our own spectroscope

http://www.livescience.com/41548-spectroscopy-science-fair-project.html

NOTE:  This one was a flop for us.

 

 

12*Make another astrolabe (or find in the bin downstairs.)

http://cse.ssl.berkeley.edu/AtHomeAstronomy/activity_07.html

 

Edited by Garga
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Garga, thanks for sharing! I totally tucked that away for ideas. ♥

Speaking of activities, my current 8th grader has been using Astronomy for All Ages through BYL 8's history of science this year and it's one of his favorite resources. It has GOBS of hands on projects and activities that are useful and worth spending time on. https://www.amazon.com/Astronomy-All-Ages-Discovering-Activities/dp/0762708093

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