A celestial sight with students

Participants from Assumption College, connecting the
principal stars to form a stick figure of their constellations.
Watching the beauty of the Philippine night sky has been a very popular extension activity in NISMED since 1991 with the acquisition of a telescope. Students visit the Institute particularly the observatory that houses one of the largest telescopes in the country which for most of them is a “once in a lifetime experience.” For this year’s skywatching sessions, an introduction to constellations served as a warm-up activity. In this activity, students use a map of the sky to connect the principal stars with lines to form a stick figure. After this, they create a story about their constellation.

“Mother’s love, Trizzie, Potas, Nobi, Luna’s ring, and Altaireon Griffin”, are just a few of the names invented by students during the session on how constellations got their names. Along with these are the stories and images of their constellations, which are also conceptualized by them.

Some of the constellations prepared by the students.
During the sharing of their work, none of the groups have the same name and stories, only similar figures. From the class discussion, it is revealed that creativity and imagination vary in every individual. Their answers also show that in science, creativity and imagination are very essential to the development of concepts. The students also learn that the origins of the names of the constellations are rooted in the culture that created them rather than on the properties of the stars.

The Stellarium, a planetarium software, is then used to extend the familiarization and identification of constellations in the night sky. They become more interested as the lecturer manipulates the software, through zooming in and the celestial objects.

Students are fascinated by the gigantic size of the reflecting telescope inside the observatory. In groups of five, students take turns in peeping into the eyepiece of the telescope. Each student is completely awed into silence as he/she gets a chance to view the images of Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon.

Schools who participated for this sky watching activities were Maria Montessori Children’s Foundation, Village School of Parkwoods, The Learning Tree, Assumption College, St. Scholastica’s College, and Bacoor National High School.

The High School Earth/Environmental Science Group of NISMED regularly conducts an overnight sky watching activity during the months of December, January, February, and sometimes March. For further details and reservation, interested parties may contact Cecile, tel. 9283545.