Education and
Public Engagement
at the Lunar and Planetary Institute
Sky Tellers - The Myths, the Magic, and the Mysteries of the Universe

Activity: Star Darts

Who?
Ages 8–12

How Long?
60 to 90 minutes or longer

What's Needed?

For each group of 3 or 4 children:

Create!

By creating and naming their own constellations using “StarDarts,” children learn how constellations were named and how stars can appear so close together, yet be light years apart.

The Activity

Before you start:

Hang the piece(s) of felt on the wall

Introduce the children to the activity thorugh a discussion about constellations.

Divide the children into groups and distribute the materials. Invite them to make Star Darts. Have each group draw and cut out 6–8 cardstock stars, each about one and a half inches across. Have them paint their stars with phosphorescent paint (but don’t tell them what this paint does!).

Star example
Star Dart
Cut the non-bendable sections of the straws into segments of varying lengths (2–6 inches long) so each group has straw sebments of different lengths for each star. Make 5 half-inch cuts in both ends of each straw. Bend the sections back until all the sections are splayed to form bases at either end.

On one end of the straw, insert a small paperclip until it is flush with the end. At this end, attach a 1-inch “hook” piece of Velcro to the splays. Tape a star to the splays on the other end of the straw.

Invite each group of children to take turns tossing their Star Darts at the felt boards (the Velcro hooks will stick to the felt). A distance of 4-5 feet is recommended.

Turn off the lights and have them view their glowing star patterns (12–15 feet is optimal viewing distance).

Ask the children to draw the random design made by their Star Darts. Challenge them to use their imaginations to connect the stars to form a picture or pattern, thus creating a constellation around the stars. Have them name their constellation and create a story about the animal, person, or object.

Connections to the National Science Standard(s)

Standard E (grades 5–8): Communicates ideas with illustrations.