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Picture of Cosmic Art- a Crafty Lesson About Space!

One of the things I enjoy doing the most in the clubs I lead is creating activities that are interdisciplinary. Because that's life, right? Science is never just science: it is storytelling, it is the history of how ideas have grown and it is, in the case of this club, inspiration for art! In this Instructable, you will see how I used the aesthetics of space to help kids produce their very own cosmic art.

This workshop was originally produced as a Maker Club run by Science Oxford for children aged 9-12 and their families. As the name suggests, these clubs have a focus on making a range of things! When planning these clubs, I like to put an emphasis on the acquisition of skills and exposure to new materials and technologies. In this club, kids learn about the constellations whilst practising their fine motor skills by sewing, learn about the properties of planets by creating their own celestial jewellery and ponder the night's sky through the medium of distress inks.

Whilst this club was more science-inspired than pure science, I have included several adaptations throughout this Instructable that you could make should you want to seize the potential for scientific learning. In this way, these activities would be no more out of place in a science classroom than in an art or technology classroom. The grade level of this workshop is a rough guide only; as you will see from the adaptations I've included throughout this Instructable, there are many ways in which you could use the same activities with older students in such a way that challenge them to think scientifically.

One of the resources I made in advance of this workshop was created using my Cricut Explore Air 2 and designed in Cricut design space. Instructions on how to make these are included in this Instructable. I have also included a low-tech alternative for those Instructables users who do not have a Cricut machine.

Please let us know what you think and do share how you've used these activities in your own classroom!

Step 1: Activity 1: Mathematical Art

Picture of Activity 1: Mathematical Art
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To begin, I posed the following question to my group: 'how can you draw a mathematically perfect 5-pointed star'?

Equipped with a range of materials including a protractor, compass, ruler and pens and pencils, the kids can then be let loose to test out their ideas. Why not chuck in a few materials that you know they won't need in order to challenge their decision making?

The answer to this puzzle lies in geometry! Firstly, use your compass to draw a circle with a smaller circle directly in the centre. Then use your protractor to measure 72 degree intervals around the circumference of the circle. Each of these points will become one of the outer points of your star. Measure 36 degrees from one of your outer points and mark it on your inner circle. Then, mark every 72 degrees of your inner circle, these will be the points where your points of your star meet.

Adaptations:

1. Once your students have got the hang of this, why not challenge them to experiment with using different sized circles? They can then reflect upon the process and note what they change about their method and what they keep the same. Have them measure the angles of different stars they draw and see which angles change with size and which don't- are there any surprises?

2. Kids can also have fun decorating their stars with geometric patterns. A beautiful addition to any maths classroom display board! I also think this would make an awesome end of term activity for your pre-Christmas maths class. Curriculum-based enough for real learning to happen, seasonal enough for kids to have fun!

3. You could use this task to help improve your students' mathematical literacy. Key words such as circumference, diameter, radius and arc can be made easier to remember when applied in a practical project. Here is another way of answering this challenge, provided by BBC Bitesize.

4. When I see art and mathematics collide, all I can think about is the genius of Leonardo Da Vinci. A task like this would be a good springboard into a unit of study into one of the greatest artists and polymaths of all time.

Awesome project! Being a former home-schooler with an artist wife with mad watercolor skills, I've done similar projects before. I'd like to add, however, that you suggest latex or nitrile gloves on your "needed" list. All too many pigments and inks contain potential toxins, but even if not it just seems better to me to not spend the next few days looking like a paint rag as the ink on your hands oh-so-slowly fades.
ScienceOxford (author)  goldenskyhook1 month ago
Great idea! As far as I know, distress inks are non-toxic but they can be stubborn to remove from skin!