South Orangetown Central School District

A collaboration among math teachers Andrea Fortuno, Vincent Piscitelli, Michael Ryan, Steve Rogo and Instructional Science Coach Samantha Levine has students looking at the night sky in a completely different way for their “Graphing With the Stars” project.

As part of their unit on transformations — changes to geometric shapes, such as rotation and dilation — students visited the StarLab to view the constellations and hear the history and mythology surrounding each of them. Back in the classroom, they were tasked with writing background summaries and graphing four constellations of their choice. “In math, we try to make real world connections,” explains Fortuno. “Students always want to know how they’re going to use what they learn and this is a hands-on opportunity for them to do just that.”

Piscitelli adds, “Adding science makes the unit more fun. Instead of memorizing formulas, students can visualize them and see how they work.”

That cross-disciplinary perspective is important. “Bringing two disciplines together helps students see how the impact each other,” Ryan says. “And graphing applies to both science and math–it’s part of the New York State standards and assessments.”

Eighth-grader Carrie W. appreciates the hands-on, big picture approach. “It’s cool because we chose the constellations we wanted to work with and were able to see them in the StarLab. It made the project more interesting.”

Male student with constellation graphing project on screen