2010 ASTRO Summer Institute

Monday - Reflections and Images

Yesterday, we learned how to use Google Earth software to see Earth, space, Mars and the Moon. My teaching partner and I found this software a potential tool in our kindergarten classroom, because we can use it to help students learn their addresses, as well as typing and spelling them, etc. We also would like to delve further into it and see if there is someway to tie Google Earth into teaching our weather standards. I would also link to find some kind of educational link to using the fighter jet in our classroom.

Tuesday - Reflections and Images

Tuesday was the telescope day, we did the galileoscopes and got to read everything upside down. Then we went outside and I practiced tracking people walking which was really hard, because you want to go up when you should be going down, etc. We did the scavenger hunt, part of which was rapidly (and correctly) assembling a telescope and tripod. I took my telescope home and my kindergartener promptly dissassembled it. I will have to make sure to instruct them NOT to do so if I put it in the science center.


Wednesday - Reflections and Images

Today we learned about the magnetic field around the Earth that protects from the sun's black spots flying off/solar storms, etc. We also learned that right now, the Earth's magnetic poles are weakening because we believe the poles are flipping, and will do so in approx. 1000 yrs if it's changing on a linear function line. Hard to comprehend. Also hard to understand how we can only see out as far as light has ever penetrated in the solar system. Would like to learn more about that and how far the solar systems goes out (infinitely?).

Definitely think the hello out there activity (great materials provided for this) would be applicable to kindergarten. Obviously, we'd have to pre-measure for them, but they'd understand the final product. We could also show them the actual representation in Jordan if we come to see the DVT. Also, got the radiometer today. My class will be so amused.
Hello Out There!

Thursday - Reflections and Images

This morning we starrted off with a fun little CLEA lab which taught us about the spectra of stars. Which apparently is measured in wavelengh/intensity and can be used to determine the chemical make-up of the star. After that, Caroline talked to us about regular spectra and gave us some background knowledge and translated some of what we did in the CLEA lab. This week I've felt like I'm in a language immersion program and finally, as the week goes on, it's starting to come together. Things from today that will be useful in the classroom, will definitely be the spectroscopes and I will order a class set from NASA for that. My class would also like learning about waxing/waning moon phases via the Oreo experiment. Though "junk" food isn't allowed in my school district we may be able to sneak this in or substitute some other "healthy" food.

Caroline lecturing on spectra.
Kate giving some background.

Friday - Reflections and Images

The thing that most suprised me this week, was learning that the distance to the outer parts of the universe (that we can see) is 13.7 billion light years away. As a result we can only see the way those parts looked 13.7 billion years ago when light left them. Distance in general was extrememly surprising to me, i.e. Mars is 6 months away and Pluto 10 years, traveling at the speed of light, because it demonstrates the enormity of our universe. It's something I knew, but hadn't really thought deeply about until this week.

In my classroom, I will incorporate Google Earth and the life-cycle of a star, Stellarium, activities including the moon phases lab and "Hello Out There", use of telescopes, discussion of the magnetic poles and the magnet/paper clip activity, and of course, the DVT. All of these activities impacted me a great deal. If I had to choose the MOST beneficial activities, it would be telescopes, "Hello Out There", and the moon phases lab. The activity that impacted my teaching experience the least would be the CLEA labs, BUT I think that it's very important to include in the AstroInstitute because of the fact that it provides a lot of background information.

A set of topics that could be covered by incorporating the "Hello Out There" activity include, counting, sequencing, planet names, representing concepts with concrete objects. These are state standards ranging from science, to math to language arts. An understanding of our place in the universe is the astronomical feature most important to teach primary and secondary students. So at different levels there would be different concepts covered. At the kindergarten level, this would include understanding that the Earth rotates on an axis once per day, and rotates around the sun once per year. This can be tied into moon phases and calendar concepts, including an explanation of the Mayans.
Without night observations, concrete demonstrations (Oreo lab/Hello Out There), creating mobiles, daily review (incorporating moon phases into daily calendar time), computer applications (Google Earth/Stellarium), telescope use and other activities such as the magnet/paperclip experiment would be methods I will use to teach astronomy.
The resources I've gained this week are applicable to other disciplines, and I would definitely be open to sharing them with other teachers. At the elementary level, because we teach all disciplines, all of these resources would be really useful because it would allow teachers to choose freely which resources to use to supplement their teaching in various disciplines.

My personal areas of interest in astronomy include deep space and study of the early universe. I am curious about where the universe (or light waves) end and the planets/stars that exist in that area. Although, I know theoretically it's infinite, I find it incomprehensible and would like to spend some time wrapping my mind around that.


Elsie Rogers Elementary

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Colleagues Participating in ASTRO

At Our School

Dana Latham

At Other Schools

Horizon Elementary