Build the Big Dipper

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Learners use simple materials to construct a model the Big Dipper. Learners hang the model from a doorway or ceiling and look up at it to see the constellation as seen from Earth. They can also look at it from the side to see what the constellation would look like from space. This activity will familiarize learners with the stars that make up the Big Dipper and how far the stars are from Earth (in light years).

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per student)

  • a black crayon or marker
  • an 8-1/2" x 11" piece of rigid cardboard or foam core board
  • black thread
  • 7 pieces aluminum foil, cut into 6" squares
  • a pen or pencil to poke a hole in the cardboard
  • tape
  • ruler
  • Big Dipper map


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Stars and Galaxies
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Ology


  • All rights reserved, American Museum of Natural History,