Exploring Astronomy 10/19/2010
By guest contributor, Diane Hurst
Last winter Molly (13), James (10), and I studied astronomy. We learned about stars, comets, meteors, the sun and moon, and the planets. For several months, we had a balloon/small ball solar system model hanging across our living room ceiling.
This model of the planets was a fun project, and pretty easy to make---Saturn was made by blowing up one of those extra long balloons and curving it around a regular balloon, attached with tape. All the balloons/balls were hung from thread and attached to the ceiling with pushpins. The dimensions were approximately to scale, except for being much closer together than in the scale of the real solar system, and Jupiter and Saturn needed to be bigger-- probably using a large punch ball would have been better for each of these planets. There was a handy list of approximate sizes to make each ball/balloon in the book we were using, Exploring Creation With Astronomy, by Jeannie Fulbright. We used a couple of small balls for the smallest planets--Mercury and Mars, and a large bead for Pluto. For the sun, we made a bright yellow poster that said “sun” on it (there was no way to make anything close to a scale-sized sun). This was at the upper corner of the room.
For most of our study, I read aloud from the book, or from a couple of other books, (listed below) and we drew some pictures to go with the topics. I thought the way Jeannie Fulbright’s book (Exploring Creation With Astronomy) tells about Pluto was very interesting. The idea of Pluto being a planet vs. being a piece of space debris was presented—with both sides of the argument given, and the reader being left to decide—or to do further research on this—for himself. (We included Pluto in our solar system model, just in case it really is a planet!)
Another thing I appreciated about this book was that it gave scientific details that made it very clear that earth is the only planet that is truly suited for life, for so many, many reasons. This brings a feeling of awe, and if you’re a creationist like I am, makes it ever so much harder to believe that the earth and all that is in it could have come into being by chance.
At first I wasn’t sure if we would really enjoy the astronomy study—it seemed like kind of a “dry” topic. But I was very pleased to use the Exploring Creation With Astronomy book. This was easy to read and to understand, and gave some interesting information. We used the chapters out of order, because we decided to start with learning about stars, then space travel, then the sun, and last of all the planets (the book has stars and space travel last, and the sun first.) We supplemented the text book with some picture books—especially for the stars study. We used Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey and Jump into Science- Stars, by Steve Tomecek.
The material in these books was just right for an introduction to this subject. I know we all learned some new things, and might be interested in learning more sometime in the future.
Diane Hurst is a stay-at-home mom, home teacher, writer, artist, and song writer. She and her husband have nine children, and they have homeschooled for over 25 years. Diane has a new homeschool curriculum business called Gentle Shepherd GentleShepherd.biz that has some unique, simple, and fun materials, and a blog at GentleShepherdWeavings.blogspot.com