Get ready to explore the solar system!

In this project created by Kathryn, Kate, and Julienne, members of the Rosie Innovators STEM program for young women in high school, you will investigate the principles of astronomy by building toothpick constellations! You’ll learn about constellations and their role in our solar system – from the Little Dipper, Big Dipper, Orion, Cygnus, Cepheus – the choice is yours!

Ready to get started? Gather the materials listed at the right, and follow the instructions below! Use these Printable Constellation Flashcards as a guideline for creating your constellations.

Required Materials

  • white crayon or pencil
  • black cardstock
  • 10-12 toothpicks
  • tape
  • constellation templates

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1

Select your preferred constellation from these Printable Constellation Flashcards.This will be your guideline for creating your constellations.

Step 2

Draw your constellation on a piece of black cardstock. Mark a dot for each star, and connect them with lines that are the length of a toothpick.

Step 3

Place marshmallows over the dots and connect them with toothpicks.

Step 4

When your constellation is complete, tape the toothpicks to the cardstock.

Step 5

Label your constellation on the card!

Step 6

Real Women in STEM

Resource 1

Annie Jump Cannon

In the early 1900s, Annie Jump Cannon created the modern star classification system, “OBAFGKM,” which classifies stars by temperature. The system was based on her observations of over 10,000 stars. Cannon was a part of a Harvard Observatory group called “Pickering’s Women,” and she cataloged and classified over 350,000 stars. She discovered 300 variable stars, 5 novae stars, and 1 binary star! Cannon received the Henry Draper Gold Medal of the National Academy of the Sciences and was the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate of science at Oxford.  Cannon was one of the first women in astronomy and also faced the hardship of being deaf.

Resource 2

This project was created by a team of three Rosie Innovators – Kathryn, Julienne, and Kate!

Kathryn is a junior at Washington-Liberty High School. Her interest in STEM began in preschool science class and has grown into an academic and extracurricular endeavor. In college, Kathryn plans to study biomedical technology or immunology.

Julienne is a ninth grader at Charles J. Colgan Sr. High School. Raised in a family of engineers, Julienne naturally became interested in STEM, which has led to her current interest and participation in VEX Robotics. In college, Julienne plans to study systems engineering. 

Kate is a sophomore at Bishop Ireton High School. She first became interested in STEM in middle school when attending a coding camp, and from there went on to attend different STEM-related camps and programs including a camp at West Point! In college, Kate plans to study criminology or psychology.