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Sketching/modeling combination for the moon/stars

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#1 rolandlinda3



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Posted 25 September 2012 - 10:57 PM

We are back from the Philippines mission trip but wanted to make note of the results in groups of young teachers that did a crater modeling exercise followed with a sketching exercise. I also make mention at the end of a similar practical approach (a physical exercise first so they can see something up close) as we taught children capturing star fields on their beginning sketch work on night observing.

We have been teaching sketching/observing sheet recording techniques for some time, and it works OK. But something different happens when we make a moon crater in front of people (the picture shows the last crater we did), demonstrate the light effects through a lunar day by using a flashlight rotating around a crater model, then follow with a sketch exercise to capture what they see. To do this last part, we set the crater at a distance, angle it somewhat away from them, set a flashlight as the "sun" at some angle, and then give them 15 minutes to capture what they see with a pencil and paper. There is a marked difference in the ability of the audience to capture the moon crater as compared to an audience that only sees a picture at first. The difference is even larger compared to a group that observes through a telescope with no benefit of any dry run exercise.

On the last group we taught, we went a little further by doing the crater exercise as a chalk talk, so we were capturing the crater while they were also capturing the crater. In simple form, the steps we highlighted and also demonstrated are common to most sketchers: draw the shape of the rim or rims, draw the shapes of the deep shadow areas, fill in the deep shadow areas, draw the shapes of the bright areas, note some in-between grey areas, shade and soften a little bit, refine a bit, repeat the process and finish. At the end of the exercise we return to the larger scope of the talk for 20 minutes. Just before the close, we give them a moon crater picture...asking them to sketch again (using a picture of a crater at a distance). Their ability to recognize and capture the details of a picture after they had done the earlier modeling/sketching exercise showed (again) marked improvement compared to those who had only worked with pictures.

Most of these young teachers had no optical experience with the moon (telescope or binocular) and almost no sketching experience--much less sketching a sky object.

You might want to try this practical exercise if you get in outreach situations. Seems to work every time for us.

Last summer at a children's camp we did something similar for the night sky by using a group of different sizes of buttons and dropping them on a area of the floor. Children could see their relative position. We showed them how to draw lines to make triangles or lines. Then we asked them to sketch the "magnitude" and relational position of the buttons-- pretending they were stars--on a piece of paper. Then we sent them up a set of stairs to look "down" on a new group of "star buttons", explaining that the only real difference is looking down instead of up at night. They promptly sketched the "star" magnitudes and positions pretty quickly--much quicker than putting them in front of scope and asking them to do the same thing without the dry-run exercise.

Of course, all of these exercises (the moon crater and the button exercises) are embedded in a larger picture and scope that does get the excited, but just the practical exercises have gotten such good response in terms of a new observer's ability that I thought this post might be helpful to explain what happened. These exercises work well. I recommend you try them with groups if you have not.

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#2 frank5817



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Posted 26 September 2012 - 09:53 AM

Roland and Linda,

This is a very good way to teach the children why the craters look the way they do as the sun position changes relative to the craters. Well done.

Frank :)

#3 Jef De Wit

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 10:30 AM

Interesting story!

#4 niteskystargazer



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Posted 26 September 2012 - 04:43 PM


A nice way to teach the Children, about the lunar craters :).




#5 rolandlinda3



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Posted 27 September 2012 - 08:10 PM

Thanks. Just wanted to share what works. And with children as well as teachers, there is something about handling dirt or mud or real things that makes exercises come alive.

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