PHOTOS: Upper School Astronomy Students Create Children’s Books With Help From Grade 3 Tartans

“So what do you notice about a book that would make you want to pick it up and read it?”
 
It was one of many questions that Upper School astronomy students asked during a visit to the Lower School Science Lab earlier this month. There to provide insight on appealing book covers, illustrations and subject matter were grade 3 students in Lower School science teacher David Beshk’s class.
 
The Upper School astronomy students were there to gain insight for a project they were working on—using their classroom learning to create a children’s book on the science of stars.
 
The astronomy class, taught by Dr. Stephanie Capen, sought to meet three goals for the project:
 
  1. Teach grade 3 students about one aspect of the science of stars.
  2. Engage the grade 3 students in the story and the design of the book
  3. Inspire grade 3 students to wonder about the stars and spark a curiosity toward the night sky.
 
The project culminated this week, as the astronomy students returned to the Lower School to read their final books to grade 3 students. Students rotated to listen to the reading of several different books, which were colorfully illustrated and introduced topics like black holes, nebulae, binary stars and more. There was also a solar telescope set up for students to safely look at the sun between readings.
 
The read-aloud was a huge success, as grade 3 students loved the books and asked many questions about the subjects. The research and interviewing of grade 3 students made the books much more relevant, Dr. Capen said.
 
“Astronomy students analyzed the grade 3 student responses for themes and patterns—giving the grade 3 students input and voice into the stories that the astronomy students would write,” she said. “It was really important that astronomy students didn’t just write stories that they thought grade 3 students might like, but took the time to build that relationship and connection to get to know and understand the students for whom they were writing.”
 
The books are all dedicated to the grade 3 class. They will have a permanent home in Mr. Beshk’s classroom for Lower School students to enjoy.
 
Cross-divisional connections like this one are a cherished part of the St. Margaret’s experience, as students in different divisions often work together on projects that enhance each classroom’s learning of similar topics.
 
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