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Florissant Fossil Beds Virtual Night Sky Junior Ranger Online Activity

Gold Virtual Florissant Fossil Beds Junior Ranger badge with Big Dipper constellation
Junior Rangers are special people who are dedicated to their National Parks. Their mission is to explore, learn, and protect, and to have fun while doing it!

While you can earn your Junior Ranger badge on your visit to Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, we have also put together some opportunities for you to become a Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument Virtual Junior Ranger. Here you will have an opportunity to earn the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument Virtual Night Sky Badge!

After completing activities, games, and/or other experiences you will print off your Virtual Florissant Fossil Beds Junior Ranger Night Sky Badge.

Earning Your Badge:

Requirements:

  • Ages 5-7: Complete two or more activities.
  • Ages 8-10: Complete three or more activities.
  • Ages 11+: Complete four or more activities.

Activity One (Required):
The Big Dipper

For thousands of years, people in the Northern Hemisphere have looked skyward and picked out the stars forming the constellations Ursa Major (the Great Bear) and Ursa Minor (the Little Bear). Greek myths tell of Callisto, who was transformed into a bear (the Great Bear) and hurled into the sky with her son Arcas (the Little Bear). Many Native American stories revolve around these stars. Today, we recognize some of the brightest stars within those constellations as the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper, which can be seen in the dark night skies over many of our national parks.

Find the Big Dipper Activity
drawing of Big Dipper Photograph of Big Dipper
Drawing of Big Dipper
Photograph of Big Dipper NASA
Compare the photo and the drawing and find the Big Dipper in both. 



Activity Two:
Stories in the Stars

PIck one of the following stories to read about how the Big Dipper played a role in different cultures.

The first story tells how the Big Dipper helped Harriet Tubman and other escaping slaves navigate at night. When you are done you should be able to answer this question: What is "the Drinking Gourd?"

The second story is a podcast that can be found here and tells of some other stories about the Big Dipper.

Activity Three:
Star Gazing Activity

A whole new world comes alive at night and is waiting to be explored. Discuss and plan with an adult in your family and/or guardian to see if you can find a safe spot to be outside and look at the stars. Be prepared for a cool night, and let your eyes adjust to the wonder above. Here are some ideas to make your experience memorable:

Star Gazing Tips:

  • Make a red flashlight. Use red paper or cellophane to cover a white flashlight. This will help you navigate at night without compromising your night vision!
  • Can you see the stars as well in your backyard with the porch light on? Try different light bulbs, even different light fixtures, so that you can see the stars better. Warm, amber colors are soft on the eyes.
  • See if you can find the Big Dipper.The last two stars in the cup of the Big Dipper point to the North Star, which is just a bit dimmer than the individual stars in the Big Dipper.

Blank sheet with random stars to draw a constellation
Blank sheet with random stars on it.

Activity Four:
Draw Your Own Constellation and Tell A Story

Right click on the image to the right (drawing with stars on it) and "save as a .jpg" file. Navigate to your download folder and/or wherever you downloaded it and print it off. If printing resources are limited you can very simply take out a blank sheet of paper and have someone draw random stars all over the paper.

Draw your own constellation or asterism (i.e. group of stars that form a shape) and make up a story about it.

Activity Five:
Extra Challenge: Junior Night Explorer Activities

Print off a copy of the Junior Ranger Night Explorer Book and fill out as many pages as you'd like to count towards your Virtual Badge from Florissant Fossil Beds. You can also send your completed pages in to receive an actual Junior Ranger Night Explorer patch. Details are in the link above.

Virtual Florissant Fossil Beds Junior Ranger badge with Big Dipper constellation

Get Your Virtual Badge:


To download your virtual ranger badge, right click and "save image as" jpeg. Navigate to your downloads folder and open the image on your computer. From there you can print.

A few ideas for displaying your badge:

Print your badge, use it as a template to cut a piece of cardboard matching the shape, and then glue the paper and a pin onto the cardboard!

Use tape to secure it into your passport or scrapbook!

Set it as your background on a phone or tablet!

Last updated: April 23, 2020