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6TH Grade Dives Into Fascinating Archaeoastronomy Project Nov-Dec-2018

posted Mar 15, 2019, 3:14 PM by Steven Smith   [ updated Mar 17, 2019, 7:38 AM ]
6TH Grade Dives Into Fascinating Archaeoastronomy Project

WMS 6th Grade Social Studies students are diving into a project on archaeoastronomy -- the study of how people in the past have understood phenomena in the sky, how they used these phenomena and what role the sky played in their cultures.  It is, in essence, “the anthropology of astronomy,” as distinguished from “the history of astronomy,” and it involves the study of the astronomical practices, celestial lore, mythologies, religions and world-views of all ancient cultures.  Many of the great monuments and ceremonial constructions of early civilizations were astronomically aligned with remarkable precision, so archaeoastronomy introduces students to the development of science and cosmological thought from the study of both the ancient astronomies and the history of human interaction with the cosmos.
 

Guest speakers from around the community have been coming to enrich lessons around topics related to archaeoastronomy and students have also participated in field trips. 

First guest presenter this week was Canada France Hawai’i Telescope outreach educator Mary Beth Laychak who set up an inflatable planetarium in the new STEAM Learning Center.  Her talk focused on the group of stars known as the Pleiades, or Makali’i, and she shared stories of various ancient cultures and how they used this constellation as both mythology and as a way to mark the seasons. She also focused on Pharaoh Ramses of ancient Egypt and how he built Abu Simbal to make his people believe he was a god. She talked about various other cultures and structures that have been built throughout the ages such as Stonehenge, reminding students that “there are no coincidences in archaeoastronomy.”  

The students asked great questions and were able to make connections to past learning.


So where to begin?  

6th Grade Social Studies teacher Ms. Yohon launched the project with students crafting notebooks featuring water color visions of the universe.  Assisting with the art project was art teacher Susan Gallery Levey.  The notebooks will be used throughout this project-based learning unit as compendiums of what students learn about where, why and how people of ancient cultures around the world built structures to better understand their natural surroundings.



An integral part of this study will be learning about the heiau that pre-contact Hawaiians built to mark the seasons, such as Hapaiali'i Heiau in Keauhou, which WMS 6th graders visited last week. 

"One thing that all of our ancient ancestors have in common is that they wanted to be able to understand the world around them. On six of the seven continents ancients built structures-mostly of stone to mark the seasons. Through teaching our students about archaeoastronomy, I have been able to learn more about these places with them. The most fascinating part of this journey was discovering that on this little (Big) island in the middle of the Pacific, the ancients did the same. After planning at trip to Hapaiali'i Heiau in Keauhou for so long, our classes and I finally got to see this remarkable heiau up close. I have to say it was humbling and spectacular all at the same time. — in Kahaluu, Hawaii."   

The visit to Hapaial'i Heiau because with a guided walk, then several hours of community service. 










Archaeoastronomy:  A Fascinating Approach To Social Studies!

All WMS 6th grade social studies classes just finished crafting notebooks that they will use during a Project-Based Learning (PBL) unit on Archaeoastronomy. During this study, students will learn about where, why and how people of ancient cultures around the world built structures to better understand their natural surroundings. An integral part of this study will be learning about the heiau that the ancient Hawaiians built to mark the seasons. Guest speakers from around the community will be coming to enrich lessons around topics related to archaeoastronomy and students will visit fascinating, restored heiau at waters’ edge in Kailua-Kona.  



All 6th Graders have crafted beautiful water color art as covers for a notebook to record their Social Studies learning journey into Archaeoastronomy.  Mahalo to WMS art teacher Susan Gallery Levey for assisting with this project.







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