Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed is a story of a young girl who loved space and science, then went on to become the first African American female astronaut. With the support of her parents, she told herself, "If I can dream it, if I can believe in it, and if I work hard for it, anything is possible."
This activity guide, inspired by the book above, will help guide you through imagining and building your own space diorama, full of galactic excitement!
STEP 1 - Gather Your Materials
- Cardboard or paperboard box (like for shipping, cereal, tissue, etc)
- Tape or glue (white glue or hot glue may both work)
- If you're using hot glue, gloves are recommended to protect your digits!
- Colorful paper, fabric, unwanted mailers, catalogs, or magazines
- Any small, interesting items you can find, such as bottle caps, stones, buttons, beads, soda can tabs, etc
- String, yarn, dental floss, old shoelaces for floating items
- Whatever fun recycled things you'd like to put in space!
STEP 2 - Make the Sky
Your box will contain your little galaxy, and every outer space diorama needs a background! What does the night sky look like from earth? From outer space? What can you find to attach to your box that shows your ideas about what you can find in your little piece of space? Some options include paper, fabric scraps, and cutouts from magazines or junk mail. Glue and tape work well to attach a sky collage. Can you think of any other ways to connect it?
STEP 3 - Distant Objects
Now that you have a base to work with, you can add some 3d objects. What kind of objects might you see far away? What might they look like? What colors do you want to have? How detailed do you think far-away things would look?
Use some of those small materials you've gathered, decorate them if you want, and attach them. Is there a pattern to where they live in the sky or are they randomly placed? Are any of these places that you might want to go someday?
If you want some inspiration, take a look at some of the pictures in NASA's galleries!
STEP 4 - Floating Objects
Far away objects are great, but I bet you can add more. Some things in space are really really REALLY far away, and some are much closer, traveling around Earth or in our own Solar System. Most of what humans have done is within our Solar System, so this is where you're likely to find things made by people (including astronauts). What sorts of things are closer in the galaxy that you are building? Does your diorama show a view from near Earth, somewhere super far away, or near an alien planet? You can make objects to represent things that you know are in space or things (and creatures!) that you imagine might be there.
Attaching floating objects involves connecting them with something like sticks or strings to the interior of your box, but farther from the back. Experiment with different ways of attaching things. A couple options: make loops with paperclips or beads, or poke holes in the box and pull your string through. Can you find other ways to attach things with wire? Pieces of paper? Sticky rice?
Once you have added everything that you want in your space diorama, share it with friends and family. If you want to share a picture on social media, make sure to tag @reDiscoverCtr so that we can marvel at the universe in your imagination too!
Hmmm, I wonder what you could do to decorate the outside...