Nearly every ancient culture had its own stories about how the creation of the universe. Divide your class into groups and assign each group an ancient culture. Ask each group to research the creation stories of that culture, and tell those stories to the
class. You may also want to assign one group to research and tell the "creation stories" of modern astronomy: the condensation theory of the origin of the solar system and the Big Bang theory for the origin of the universe. Once all the stories have been
told, discuss in class the similarities and differences between the ancient myths, and between ancient myths and modern theories. Each group may want to prepare a poster illustrating each story, or even dramatize it!
The structures discovered at Nabta are similar in form and possibly function to structures such as Stonehenge in southern England and the Bighorn Medicine Wheel in Montana. Have students research these other skywatching sites. Discuss in class how these
sites are similar and different in how they allowed their builders to monitor motions in the sky.
Other ancient cultures, especially the Sumerians of the Middle East and the Maya of modern Mexico, also built pyramids. The Mound Builders of what is now Missouri also constructed pyramid-shaped mounds of earth. Assign the class to research these
alternate pyramids. Construct posters or models demonstrating how these structures looked. Discuss in class how these structures were similar and how they were different, both in terms of shape and in terms of what scientists believe their functions were.
Did the other pyramids have astronomical alignments, as the Great Pyramid does? Ask the class to discuss why the shape was so popular among cultures that had little or no contact with each other. (A long time ago, one archaeologist even suggested that the
Maya were Egyptians who got very lost at sea!)
Nearly every ancient culture has a story explaining why the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and what happens to the Sun at night. Have students research these ancient stories from a variety of cultures (Egyptian, Greek, Norse, Chinese, Mayan,
etc.) and compare and contrast these stories in class. You can use these stories as a "jumping off point" to discuss how Earth's rotation causes the Sun to appear to move.
The Egyptians had two different calendars, but this was not unusual. The Maya had three different ways of marking time. Today the Hindu, Islamic, and Jewish religions maintain calendars different from the ones used for everyday life. The Chinese also have
a traditional calendar different from the more commonly used one. Ask students to research these different calendar systems, including our current "Gregorian" calendar and its precursors. How precisely do all of these calendars keep time? How useful are
they for everyday life? Do other calendars have to be adjusted or changed? Discuss which would be the "best" calendar to use, or devise your own unique calendar system.