Star pupil Laura gains universal approval

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HAVING a star named after you is possibly one of the most unique gifts you could ever receive.

But one schoolgirl has had an even bigger honour after her drawing became the inspiration for a new Scottish constellation.

Eleven-year-old Dalmeny Primary pupil Laura Doliczny's design was chosen out of 200 entries from schools across Scotland as the search to create a new constellation got under way.

The youngster was inspired by Robert Burns' poem To A Mouse and set out to link eight different stars like a dot-to-dot puzzle.

The result – which will now be spotted by stargazers across the world – is the Wee Sleekit Beastie constellation.

A total of eight schools – including Dalmeny – were selected to take part in the International Year of Astronomy project, backed by the Royal Astronomy Society, and were invited to choose their own star for inclusion in the constellation.

Once the other seven schools had chosen their stars, pupils were tasked with linking the new constellation to create a unique design – and Laura's design won by a light year.

Roger Meachem, headteacher at Dalmeny Primary, said: "Laura designed something which is not just a constellation but also linked to the Homecoming.

"It had to be something which represented Scotland.

"When Laura came back with this design I thought, 'Wow'.

"She got through a pile of paper coming up with her design and she tore up drawing after drawing until she finally got it the way she wanted it.

"We have been trialling a new science scheme for Scotland and looking at a new way of teaching science. The children here are doing much more science in school than you would find even in secondary school.

"As part of that we have been doing astronomy. The children learned how to measure stars, what stars are made of, things that aren't normally taught at primary schools."

Excited P7 pupil Laura – who will receive a prize at a ceremony at the Glasgow Science Centre – is already planning a future in stargazing.

She said: "It's been a really good experience getting to enter the competition and it's been a huge success. My parents are really pleased with me. It's my birthday coming up soon so I will be getting a telescope.

"I think I'm going to continue to study astronomy."

Although the Wee Sleekit Beastie will not be recognised in the same way as the 88 official constellations, it has already appeared on the International Year of Astronomy website and will become known by astronomers across the world.

Astronomer Royal for Scotland, John Brown, said: "I thought Laura's design was overwhelmingly good and it was very much a clear winner.

"She made very good use of the stars."