How Can the Sky be Used to Navigate?

This module is being field tested and will be available to purchase fall 2018

How Can the Sky be Used to Navigate?

How Can The Sky Be Used to Navigate? is part of Smithsonian Science for the Classroom, a brand new curriculum series by the Smithsonian Science Education Center. It is aligned to a group of grade 5 standards. It has a focus on Earth and space science with a secondary focus on physical science and engineering design. In this module, students:

  • Use a model to represent how distance from Earth makes the Sun appear brighter than other stars
  • Use evidence to support the claim that stars create recognizable and predictable patterns in the night sky over different times of the year
  • Obtain and communicate information to explain the predictable patterns of the Moon, Earth, Sun, and other stars in the sky
  • Use a model to show the gravitational relationships between two object
  • Obtain and communicate information on how animals use patterns of stars to help them navigate
  • Construct an explanation for how the Sweet Potato may have made it to the Polynesian Islands hundreds of years before European Explorers crossed the Pacific Ocean.

Below are digital resources that support teaching of this module.

Lesson 1: Distances Can Be Deceiving

The Night Sky: A photograph of the night sky

Street lights: A photograph of a row of streetlights

Lesson 5: Gravity Beyond Earth

Leaves Falling


A video of leaves falling

Lesson 6: Earth Moves

The Sun



Lesson 7: The Moon Moves

Moon Phases: Picture of moon phases

Starry Night: Image of Vincent Van Gogh’s painting, Starry Night

Lesson 9: Animals Use the Sky

Migrating Birds


Lesson 10: Finding the Way

Moving Stars

Car Driving

Lesson 11: The North Star
Kit Tips & Tricks