South Orangetown Central School District

Eighth graders at South Orangetown Middle School are learning about the stars with the help of K-8 Science Instructional Coach Sam Levine.

During eighth grade math classes, students stepped into the StarLab, an inflatable planetarium which projects star constellations and planets for students to get a visualization of the galaxy. “The math teachers approached me about the project several years ago. It ties into their geometry unit when they graph the constellation and then translate, reflect and rotate the images into the different quadrants,” Levine said.

While students were in the StarLab, Levine went through various constellations and told the stories of each of them including the history and mythology behind them. During the immersive experience, students also got to see a view of the day and nighttime sky in Central Park. For their homework assignment, students had to select four constellations of their choice, graph their coordinates and write a brief paragraph summarizing the history and myths associated with the constellations they chose. 

“Starting the project in the StarLab really gets the students engaged and helps them determine which constellations they will choose. It crosses over several curriculums: math for the graphing/rules for transformations, science as they’re learning about the constellations, ELA because they’re writing paragraphs about each constellation and art since they are drawing the constellations. Students work with each other, sharing ideas and truly enjoy this project,” said SOMS Math teacher Vincent Piscitelli.

SOMS StarLab lesson