Daily Discovery: 3-D Constellation

Post written by Sierra Tamkun, Learning Experiences Manager.

Daily Discovery: 3-D Constellation

Twinkle twinkle little star… I wonder how far away you are! From Earth, stars in constellations look like they grouped together in the same area of space. In reality, they are at different distances from us, and only look grouped together because of our perspective. Make your own 3-D constellation and see how close (and far away!) the different stars in the constellation Orion are to Earth!


  • Piece of cardboard or cardstock
  • Thin string or thread
  • 8 small beads (pony beads work well!) or buttons
  • Tape
  • Orion constellation images (attached)
  • Needle or pushpin
  • Pen or pencil
  • Ruler


  1. Draw out the constellation Orion on your piece of cardboard, or print the constellation provided and glue it on. Tip: if drawing the constellation, don’t forget to add the names of the stars!
  2. Poke a hole through the cardboard where each star is located.
  3. Cut 8 pieces of string. Each piece should be about 18 inches long.
  4. Tie a bead onto the end of each piece of string. These will be your stars!
  5. Thread the end without a bead through each of the holes on your cardboard.
  6. Using your ruler and the chart below, pull your string through until the bead is the correct distance from the cardboard. This distance will be different for each star. Place a piece of tape over the back of the string to keep it in place at the right length!
  7. Hold your constellation board above your head and allow the beads to hang towards you as you look up. From this perspective, the beads align to form the constellation Orion, just like on Earth!
  8. Now hold the board in front of you, allowing the beads to hang towards the floor. From this different perspective, see how the stars are not on the same plane but all in different locations in 3D space!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

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Daily Discovery: Constellation Scope/ Descubrimiento en casa: ¡Observa las constelaciones!

Post written by Sierra Tamkun, Learning Experiences Manager.

Daily Discovery: Constellation Scope

Have you ever searched the night sky for patterns in the stars? For thousands of years, humans have used easily recognizable star patterns, or constellations, to guide mythology, storytelling, and travels. Explore some well-known patterns in the night sky by making your very own constellation scope!


  • Toilet paper tube
  • Dark construction paper
  • Tape
  • Push pin
  • Constellation patterns (attached in PDF)


  1. Using your toilet paper tube, trace a circle on your dark-colored construction paper. Draw a larger circle around the outside – this is how we will attach the paper to the toilet paper tube!
  2. Cut along the outside circle. Fold the edges of your paper circle over the top of your toilet paper tube and attach it with tape. Tip: cut slashes along the edge of your paper circle to fold them over more easily!
  3. Place your constellation pattern on top the paper circle. Using a push pin, poke holes where the “stars” are.
  4.  Look through your viewer at a light source to see a shining constellation. Tonight, head outside and see if you can find this same constellation in the night sky!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

Traducido por Károl de Rueda y Laura Vilaret-Tuma.

Descubrimiento en casa: ¡Observa las constelaciones!

¿Alguna vez has podido observar alguna de las constelaciones en el cielo nocturno? Una constelación es un grupo de estrellas en una región celeste que forma una figura determinada. Por miles de años, los seres humanos las han usado para guiar viajes, contar historias y crear mitologías. Crea tu propia mira telescópica y ¡encuentra algunas constelaciones famosas en el cielo!

Artículos necesarios:

  • Tubos de cartón (p. ej. de papel higiénico o de toalla de papel)
  • Papel de construcción o cartulina (de color oscuro)
  • Cinta adhesiva
  • Tijeras
  • Chincheta o tachuela
  • Plantillas de constelaciones (incluidas en la segunda página)


  1. Traza un círculo sobre el papel usando el tubo de cartón como guía. Luego dibuja un círculo mucho más grande a su alrededor, para que este sea el borde que nos va a ayudar a adjuntarlo al tubo de cartón.
  2. Recorta el círculo más grande y envuélvelo alrededor de uno de los extremos del tubo, fijándolo con cinta adhesiva. Consejo: Es más fácil doblar el papel si le haces unas cortadas paralelas.
  3. Imprime o dibuja las plantillas de las constelaciones que puedes encontrar más abajo. Corta y pega una de ellas sobre el papel que adheriste al tubo, y haz agujeros sobre los puntos negros, o “estrellas” que corresponden a cada constelación con la ayuda de la tachuela o chincheta. Puedes hacer una, o todas las constelaciones utilizando diferentes tubos de cartón.
  4. Apunta tu mira telescópica hacia cualquier fuente de luz para mirar una constelación simulada y aprender sobre ella. Esta noche, ¡puedes tratar de buscar la misma constelación en el cielo!

¿Te gustaría descargar esta actividad? Haz clic aquí para obtener un archivo PDF.

Para encontrar actividades, ideas y mucho más descubrimiento en casa, ¡síguenos!

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Enter the Zooniverse

Post written by Ben Gondrez, Digital Dome Manager.

Enter the Zooniverse

Have you ever wondered if there was an easy way to help scientists and researchers make new discoveries from your very own home? Well, whether you’ve had that thought or not, you can indeed be a vital participant in actual research through the Zooniverse! The Zooniverse is the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research. By utilizing the power of volunteers – more than a million people around the world who come together to assist professional researchers – Zooniverse makes it easy for anyone, including you, to contribute to real academic research from their homes on their own computers. As many of us are spending more time than usual at home observing social distancing in response to COVID-19, now is the perfect time to become a citizen scientist and Zooniverse makes it easy for all ages of people to get involved. So how does Zooniverse work? Check out this short animation to learn more:

Ready to get started helping with real research projects from your own home? You can visit zooniverse.org to see all active projects including projects like Planet Four, a project exploring the surface and weather of Mar’s south polar region, or the project Bash The Bug, helping researchers find effective antibiotics to fight tuberculosis. Not sure where to start? Here are a couple of curated lists of projects and other links from Zooniverse to help you get started:

Designed for 5-12 year olds:

  • Curated list of age-appropriate Zooniverse projects for younger learners
  • Zooniverse-based Activity for 5-12 year olds
  •  Classroom.zooniverse.org
    • Wildcam Labs
      • Designed for 11-13 year olds, but the content can easily scale down for younger audiences.
      • Great way to engage if you love looking at photos of wild animals and want to investigate ecological questions. The interactive map allows you to explore trail camera data and filter and download data to carry out analyses and test hypotheses.
      • Educators can set up private classrooms, invite students to join, curate data sets, and get access to the guided activities and supporting educational resources.
      • Individual explorers also welcome – you don’t need to be part of a classroom to participate. · Planet Hunters Educators Guide

Designed for 11-13 year olds:

Designed for teens and adults:

  • Curated list of Zooniverse projects
  • Zooniverse-based Lesson Plan for teens and adults
  • Classroom.zooniverse.org
    • Wildcam Labs
      • Designed for middle school classrooms, but the content can easily scale up for older audiences.
      • See description above.
    • Astro101 with Galaxy Zoo
      • Designed for undergraduate non-major introductory astronomy courses, but the content has been used in many high-school classrooms as well.
      • Students learn about stars and galaxies through 4 half-hour guided activities and a 15-20 hour research project experience in which they analyze real data (including a curated Galaxy Zoo dataset), test hypotheses, make plots, and summarize their findings.
      • Developed by Julie Feldt, Thomas Nelson, Cody Dirks, Dave Meyer, Molly Simon, and colleagues.
    • For both Wildcam and Astro101 Activities
      • Educators can set up private classrooms, invite students to join, curate data sets, and get access to the guided activities and supporting educational resources.
      • Individual explorers also welcome – you don’t need to be part of a classroom to participate.
  • Planet Hunters Educators Guide
    • Designed for 11-13 year olds, but the content can easily scale up for older audiences.
    • See description above.
  • Notes from Nature Activity
    • Designed for 11-13 year olds, but the content can easily scale up for older audiences.
    • See description above.
  • Snapshot Safari-based Lesson Plans and Interactive Timeline
    • Developed by University of Minnesota PhD student Jessica Dewey
  • Kelp Forest Ecology Lab
    • Through the Zooniverse FloatingForests.org project, researchers are striving to understand the impact of climate change on giant kelp forests, an indicator of the health of our oceans. In this lab, students analyze Floating Forest and other ocean data to explore their own research questions.
    • Developed by Cal State – Monterey Bay faculty Dr. Alison Haupt and colleagues
  • NEH Teacher’s Guide for Digital Humanities and Online Education
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Daily Discovery: Harness the Wind!

Post written by Hannah Curtis, Education Assistant.

Daily Discovery: Harness the Wind!

Wind! It doesn’t just blow silver tiles on the museum’s Wind Wall; it’s a natural renewable resource. Engineers develop ways to harness wind to help the modern and natural world. Build your own creation using the design process, materials in your home, and of course, the wind!


All supplies are optional – use what you have!

Pre-design supplies:

  • Scratch paper or graph paper
  • Writing utensil

Building Supplies

  • Plastic bottles and lids
  • Tin cans
  • Paper scraps or sticky notes
  • Pencils or pens
  • Straws
  • Disposable cups or containers
  • Cardboard
  • Yarn or string
  • Rubber bands
  • Natural materials (sticks or rocks)
  • Blank CD or floppy disks
  • Plastic spoons
  • Paper tubes
  • Old socks
  • Tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Metal brads
  • Paper clips
  • Push pins
  • Magnets


  1. As an engineer, work through the design process to begin building! Follow the design process on the right, sketch out your design, and think creatively about what materials you can use inside your home.
    Use the following guiding questions to help you:
    a. What purpose will your design have? What is its function?
    b. Could your design be multifunctional?
    c. How will you ensure your design will hold up against heavy winds or other weather?
    d. How will you know your design was a success?
  2.  Test your design and adjust as necessary. Share your creation with family and friends through photos or videos!
  3. Wind isn’t the only renewable resource! What other renewable resources have helped other cultures and countries?
  4. Challenge yourself to build a new creation that reflects other sustainable energy sources! What do we utilize here in Fort Collins?

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

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At Home Education Resources

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

At Home Education Resources

Here at FCMoD, we believe in education. And during times like this, we want you to know that education can be found anywhere and learning does not stop!

In this blog post, we’ve compiled a list of our recommended education resources during this time. Learn more below!

  • Whether you’re in the mood to virtually explore ancient Rome, read past presidents’ personal papers or download coloring pages from dozens of international cultural institutions, this roundup has you covered. Check it out here!
  • The Adler Planetarium  shared this awesome #MuseumAtHome resource: 10 experiments from their “Let’s Do Science” series!
  • Here’s another awesome virtual resource for staying engaged with cultural institutions!
  • Have you ever wondered how space exploration impacts your daily life? NASA has put together this website about just that!
  • Missing Little STEAMers? Us too. But we found this handy resource of 100+ indoor craft activities for kids!
  • Speaking of online resources, here’s 13.8 billion years of history online for free!
  • Missing Storytime in the Dome? How about storytime in space?! Check out the latest storytime in space reading.

Even though the museum is closed, we want to continue to inspire creativity and encourage hands-on learning for all!

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Looking Back on the First Moon Landing

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

Looking Back on the First Moon Landing

July 20, 1969 marked a monumental day in history as millions gathered around their televisions and watched as two American astronauts did the seemingly impossible. These two astronauts experienced something the world had never seen… Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon.

That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” –  Neil Armstrong


Blast from the Past

Russia launched the first satellite, Sputnik 1 in 1957. The United States followed suite and launched several of their own satellites. It was a space race to have the first humans in space.

In 1961 the first human was launched into space. Russia won the race and Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Less than a month later the U.S. launched Alan Shepard into space. NASA was challenged by President John F. Kennedy to send a human to the Moon.

On July 16, 1969 the spacecraft Apollo 11 prepared for launch into orbit and into history. Only four days later, Neil Armstrong took one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. We went to the Moon!


World History, Our History

How did Fort Collins celebrate this incredible moment? In lead up to the lunar landing, check out the Coloradoan’s headline!

Then, on July 20, 1969, this headline from the Denver Post celebrates the epic Moon Landing (even if the headline is less-than-enthusiastic).

Lunar Landing day was celebrated by local banks with a day off from business.

There was also a sale on any ’69 cars in town.

And, deliciously, the local dairy queen celebrated with an aptly titled Moonday special!


Looking Forward

Ten astronauts would follow in the footsteps of the Apollo 11 astronauts. While the last manned mission to the moon was in 1972, our understanding of space and exploration of it continued in other ways.

Last year, Fort Collins’ very own Dr. Serena Auñón-Chancellor launched to the International Space Station. Today, NASA’s research includes studying the effects of human space flight, like in their Twins Study, as well learning more about planets like Mars.

As discoveries continue to be made and space exploration advances, we encourage you to stay curious and to never stop exploring.

Join us at the museum this July as well celebrate #MoonMonth!



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Interview with Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger

Post written by Kristin Rush, Marketing & Communications Manager.

The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery had the honor of hosting former NASA astronaut, Dorothy “Dottie” Metcalf-Lindenburger, at this year’s Celebration of Gratitude on Monday, April 23rd. Celebration of Gratitude is the museum’s annual event honoring donors, partners, and volunteers. Dottie, a graduate of Fort Collins High School, was selected by NASA to be a Mission Specialist on the STS-131 Discovery in April of 2010. When she flew to the International Space Station, she took a Fort Collins High School Lambkin with her, which is on display at FCMoD, along with her suit and helmet. The exhibit display is located in the Woodward Special Exhibition Gallery, with the Smithsonian developed exhibit, Earth from Space, currently on display until June 3rd.


Dottie, the keynote speaker at Celebration of Gratitude, sat down with staff for an interview. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.


  1. How did growing up in Colorado shape your ambitions and goals?

I grew up in Loveland and graduated from Fort Collins High School, and I think what I like to credit Colorado having is big skies and great rocks. My parents took me to visit our local museums, and I also had a really great education. The experience of being outdoors often, and being able to see the stars at night was so special. Now raising my daughter in Seattle, I realize that it’s actually rare for people to see the night sky so regularly. It’s a pretty big deal to have that all the time in Colorado. So I really credit all of those things with helping to shape my perspective.


  1. What were your biggest fears and biggest dreams when entering the Astronaut Corps?

It’s a bit intimidating to be joining the people who are considered to have “the right stuff.” Even though lots of people have “the right stuff” for all different reasons. Just living up to the expectations of being an astronaut, and then fulfilling those expectations of what people see and expect is a lot. It’s a dream and a fear at the same time.

Also, you want to make sure you keep your crew mates safe. You’re aware of the risks. I wasn’t afraid when I signed up. I had been aware of the risk of space flight with other missions. It’s helping others that care about you understand those risks and how we try to mitigate them.


  1. What are the qualities in yourself that you believe made you successful as an Astronaut Candidate?

I worked hard in school, in math and sciences – actually in all my classes I did well! Also, being an athlete was very important. A lot of being an astronaut is being physically fit – like the training that’s in the water in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, where you work over 5-6 hours in the water moving big bulky suits. You need to be able to fly in your T-38. You need to be healthy. Therefore, being an athlete was important. It also just so happens that they were hiring teachers in 2004, and I was a very motivated teacher. A number of these factors helped me rise to the top.


  1. What role would you like to see museums like FCMoD play in helping prepare young people for a career in STEAM related fields?

I see museums as a collective that allow you to experience things that you could not individually do by yourself. Museums allow you to time-travel into the past, but also fast forward way beyond into the future. They allow you to keep coming back, revisiting, and rediscovering. Every time you visit there is something new. From taking small children and hitting the highlights, to visiting with students for a particular subject, such as growing up in Colorado or a specific unit in science, to doing research. A unique thing about museums too is special traveling exhibits! The special exhibit FCMoD has right now is great!


“Museums allow you to time-travel into the past, but also fast forward way beyond into the future.”


  1. What were the biggest differences in your training and the actuality of being in space?

Well, the good thing is that you don’t have nearly the problems that they put you through in the simulator. We would go into a simulator just about once a week as we were leading up to our flight. They break main engines, fuel cells, computers, the communication systems, with the point of helping you understand how these systems work and helping you recognize that you can work well under pressure, and back each other up. So when you get to space it’s a lot easier! But when you get to space you have “space brain” because there’s all this new stuff that’s very stimulating, so you start paying attention to other things. It’s good they overstimulated you with potential failures, so you’ve been trained to focus on the important things.


  1. Does your all-astronaut rock-band, “Max Q” still perform and what were/are your songs about?

We tried to get back together! Chris is in Canada, Ricky and Drew are on the space station now, Tracy’s in Houston, and Steve is in California. We’re all pretty far flung. That’s what was hard about the retirement of the shuttle. We tried to pass on the band to the next classes of astronauts, but those classes were small – they had musicians within them – but they were already overtasked with so many other things in their life that adding in music was challenging.

Our songs were just cover songs. [Laughs] We had one original song, but it’s a little bit like a song that already existed, with some different lyrics. We covered some Train with “Drops of Jupiter.” They weren’t all space themed though!


  1. What’s the hardest thing to describe about space?

Just the everyday things you do that you take for granted are a little bit harder. Putting your contacts in, combing your hair, brushing your teeth – it takes additional time to do everything. I am sure people who live on the space station for extended periods of time are able to adapt, but being on the station for 15 days, it’s like being on a camping trip – you just take those extra steps to do normal, daily things. It’s hard to describe to people something like you can’t shower in space. That blows kids’ minds, they are like “that’s gross!” I mean, we keep clean. You can show what happens to water when it’s floating around. We have water – you just can’t shower!


  1. Now that you’ve had the view of Earth from space, what do you think about when you look up at the night sky?

I think it’s still so beautiful. I’ve always thought it was so beautiful. I had a telescope (gifted from Santa!) in sixth grade. I taught astronomy, and even now I build a telescope with my students, so I’ve always liked looking at the night sky. Now I take my daughter to check these things out. I took her to see the eclipse in 2017, and at first she was like “why are we driving 8 hours to the other side of Oregon” but then when she saw the actual totality of the eclipse, she understood why I wanted her to see it and experience it.


  1. What was the most impactful take-away from your time at the International Space Station?

As an Earth scientist, as someone who saw the atmosphere, I realized I have a voice. People listen to me now that I’ve been in space. So what I try to always tell people is: Earth is our spaceship for 7 billion-plus people and it needs to be taken care of.


“Earth is our spaceship for 7 billion-plus people and it needs to be taken care of.”


  1. FCMoD displays an exhibits case with the Fort Collins High Lambkin you took into space. How does it feel to have your story preserved in a museum? 

It was really cool to see the display! It’s amazing! As a kid, when I’d come to the old Fort Collins Museum, you see things from the past and you wonder about the people, the objects, everything. I hope my story in FCMoD helps inspire kids to be whatever they want to be when they grow up. In my case, I wanted to be an astronaut!


  1. What do you wish people would ask you about space?

Hmmm, people ask a lot of really great questions about it, but that’s a good question… I try to be pretty transparent about my experience. One thing I’ve been telling kids about is that astronauts also get disappointed, and that it’s ok to be disappointed. There were some things I really wanted to do in space, like I wanted be a space walker. I was the backup – which is awesome in and of itself – but I wasn’t able to actually do it. I also wanted to run on the treadmill, but there was only one and it had some issues. If I used it and anything happened to it, the exercise of the ISS crew members would be impacted. I think it’s important to know you don’t always get everything you want. You learn this as you grow up.  This is a lesson I try to teach my daughter. And it doesn’t have to be a bad thing! I got to go to space and loved it, but there might be some disappoints that you hold to – and that’s ok! It’s ok to be a little disappointed – that’s life.


  1. What type of research do you think will be done in the future of space travel, NASA, and the like?

There are so many breakthroughs with the human body. We saw just this summer that genes may change as people are in space. We know that interocular pressure has changed. So understanding “why is this happening?” – why is there a fluid shift in the head? Is that bad? What are the long-term implications of that? So there’s a lot of medical studies coming out that I think will be interesting research and data to explore. Of course, research takes time, so that is important to remember.


  1. Here at FCMoD, we host Space Explorers and Space Adventurers Summer Camps. What advice do you have for the future little astronauts, scientists, explorers, and dreamers of the world?

Always be curious. Curiosity took me a lot of different places. It’s allowed me to climb mountains, go to space, and also just enjoy every day – some little piece of the day will always be new or different. I just saw an odd bird on my way here – that was fun! Curiosity will keep you going and excited about each new day. In their lifetime, their jobs are not even created yet! By being curious, they get to create their own futures! Be curious: explore & discover.


“Always be curious.”


Thank you to Dottie for her time and inspiration!

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