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Like a bunny in the sky

Constellation art project a precursor to fifth grade solar system study

Fourth graders at Orchard View Elementary recently got the chance to be rising stars in art class.

Teacher Melissa Ennis led about 100 students in a make-your-own-constellation project that asked them to imagine their favorite animal as a cluster of stars.

Shreyash Panthagani’s rat constellation comes with a block of cheese

The lesson, created by Ennis last school year, focused on outline drawing using a photo of an animal, placing stars at key points of the outline, and learning how to add pastel chalk “glow” to construction-paper skies. It included a primer on constellations and the solar system, which students will study in depth in the fifth grade.

Rylan Schaefer already had some constellation knowledge. She remembered plenty from a visit to the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

“Constellations are a group of stars that form a picture, and there are, like, 80 that we know about,” Rylan said. “The Big Dipper is actually Ursa Major, and the Little Dipper is Ursa Minor. 

“There are more suns that go to (the pair of constellations),” Rylan added. “Those form a bear with a long tail if you look at it a certain way.”

New this year, students created origin myths for their imagined constellations.

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

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