California Educator

October 2016

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 40 of 51

How the Planetarium Relates to the Standards Excerpts from Math — "For my sixth-graders, area of a triangle (CCSS 6.G.A.1) and representing three-dimensional figures using nets (CCSS 6.G.A.4) are the main math standards, but as they prepare for seventh grade and beyond mathematically, they will also attempt to draw, construct and describe triangles given three measures (CCSS 7.G.A.2) and solve for the area and circumference of a circle (CCSS 7.G.B.4)." Next Generation Science Standards — Miller and a different set of Leland students made a smaller planetarium six years ago; revisions to the first one took last year 's class "into our high school level technology stan- dard (NGSS HS-ETS 1-3). … In this standard we examined the cost, our safety in building the geodesic dome, the reliability of the struc- ture given the increased weight of nuts, bolts, washers and cardboard, and lastly the aes- thetic value." The planetarium also relates to middle school science standards in astronomy (NGSS MS-ESS 1-1 and 1-2). English language arts — In presenting the planetarium to their schoolmates, students identify their roles and respond to questions "with elaboration and detail (CCSS ELA. SL.6.1)." They also "present to others using a logical sequence as outlined in the lesson," and give facts and details on the construction of the planetarium clearly and understandably, using good eye contact (CCSS ELA.SL.6.4). O ne year ago, Chris Miller's sixth-grade class at Leland Street Elementary School in San Pedro began construction of a geodesic dome with a diameter of almost 20 feet. Students had to measure and cut out more than 200 cardboard triangles from seven different triangle configurations, and bind them together with nuts, bolts and fender washers. eir goal: to build a real, working planetarium. Construction took months, with Miller and students meeting several times a week after school. Students named their creation the Madsen- Nishisaka Planetarium after two teachers who had collectively spent several decades at Leland and who were planning to retire. When the dome was completed and set on a 4-foot-tall base, the class hosted their schoolmates with half-hour shows where constellations were projected inside the dome. At Leland's Science Fair night in May, family members and the community got a chance to see the show. e project drew from lessons in science, math, technology and engineer- ing. On his website,, Miller outlines in detail how planning, construction and presentation of the planetarium relate to the new state standards in middle school and even high school (see sidebar). e project has led many children to consider science and math fun and exciting. "Students started to say, 'I want to be an engineer when I grow up,' instead of just a doctor and lawyer," says Miller, a member of United Teachers Los Angeles. Reach for the Stars Sixth-graders build a working planetarium 39 October 2016 teaching & learning Students of Chris Miller (inset) pose proudly in front of their planetarium; at right, students present to schoolmates and community.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of California Educator - October 2016