Posts Tagged ‘Space’

Highlights: Homer Hickam

Several months ago I showed my 9th grade students October Sky. As a quick end-of-class assignment, I had them write Homer Hickam letters expressing their personal reaction to his story.

I expected a few fluffy sentences finished with, “thanks for making your movie” type statement.

I received well-crafted, insightful letters expressing their gratitude for knowing Mr Hickam’s story. They could relate to Hickam’s rocky relationship with his father and feeling trapped by a blue-collar community that tends to discourage higher education.

A few weeks ago I finally mailed them and today I received a reply! The letter was from Mr Hickam’s wife, but it included his photograph signed just for us! I cannot wait to get to school tomorrow and share it with my students – now I need to find a special frame to treasure it always :)

Homer Hickam himself!

SCONYC 2010

Last weekend I went to the annual SCONYC conference for New York City Science Teachers. Here’s a summary of the day:

Forensic Microscopy Workshop – My fellow TC-ers and I headed up a a workshop on forensic microscopy. It was a bit disappointing because it didn’t end up being as hands on as we had hoped, but I got a few good pictures out of it:

playing with a lens and camera

a classmate’s split ends – it was amazing that we could use the digital camera to capture what we saw in the microscope!

Operation Shellshock – Key Address by Lt. Richard Thomas of the New York State Police

There were a myriad technical difficulties, so we couldn’t hear most of his talk, but Lt. Thomas handled them well! He spoke about his experience working under cover to help stop the black market trade of indigenous New York amphibian and reptiles.

Active Physics – This was a fantastic workshop given by John Roeder of The Calhoun School in Manhattan. In my methods classes, we have worked a lot with different Active Physics activities, but I had never grasped how the curriculum as a whole worked. As John walked us through the curriculum, I was quickly convinced that I would definitely use this curriculum if given the opportunity! I’m heading over to his school in two weeks to observe him in action.

The conference was held at the incredible Stuyvesant High School in Battery Park City.

The school has escalators that travel two floors at a time. It also has these fantastic tiles I forgot to take a picture of: they are glass boxes with some sort of memorabilia from each year since the school was started. So cool! We even got to eat in a cafeteria that overlooked the Hudson River.

NY Center for Space Education – Katherine Brown, of the NYC Challenger Center, gave a talk and materials based on several different NASA-designed science curriculum. We even got free UV beads :)

If you have a Challenger Center near you, go check it out! They are amazing places and fantastic resources for professional development and field trips.

Joy of Chemistry – all I can say about this workshop is that I want to grow up to be as crazy as the two women who presented it! They spent the hour demonstrating awe-inspiring chemistry experiments and describing how they can be effective in the classroom. Their effort to remind us that science is fun was easily rewarded as the room was packed and we were all on the edge of our seats! They recommended reading the book “The Flying Circus of Physics with Answers” for us physics people and gave us the procedure for each of their demonstrations:

  • Floating Golf Ball (my favorite!)
  • Fortune Fish
  • Switch Pitch Ball
  • Magic Sand
  • Secret Message with Window Cleaner
  • Flash Paper
  • Naked Eggs
  • Blue & Orange/Gold Reaction
  • Collapsing Soda Bottle
  • Magic Birthday Candles
  • Soda Geyser (I learned you can use seltzer instead of diet coke – much easier cleanup!)

In addition to the workshops, we had a great walk through the exhibit hall. I’m hoping a few of the booths I left my name with will be sending some sample text books!

Bring a retired space shuttle to NYC!

I’ve posted several times on the Intrepid Museum in NYC. It’s pretty cool.

It could be way cooler! There’s a petition for one of the space shuttles about to be retired to be added to the already wonderful collection at the museum.

Head to the Intrepid’s website to sign the petition!!

CoRoT-7b: The Disappearing Planet

In the Fall of 2009, astronomers found an exoplanet that seemed to be similar to Earth, orbiting a different sun. However, now they have discovered the orbit of the exoplanet continues to change because of its changing tides; the tides are changing due to its continuous loss of mass. The surface of the exoplanet is so hot that it is merely evaporating.

This would be a fantastic article from CNN.com to use in an Astronomy, Physics, or Earth Science class in a current events section or when discussing orbits.

Here are three of the articles from September/October 2009 when the exoplanet was first being monitored:

Field Trip: Intrepid Museum of Sea, Air, & Space

If you’re interested in a fantastic field trip in New York City, check out the Intrepid Museum!

I’ve put together a power point about the museum as well as an educators guide for planning a trip. The educators guide has a sample middle school unit on aviation that can be used to prepare for an aviation tour.

This is an incredible museum that you should check out even if you are just passing through New York City.

NASA Resources

NASA has many resources for teachers – the best two at the moment are a site just for educators and your chance to be a part of the committee to review NASA flight plans!

NOVA scienceNOW

While I was watching last night’s episode of The Colbert Report, I was pleased to see that Steven Colbert’s guest was Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, an Astrophysicist associated with the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Dr. Tyson hosts the PBS show NOVA scienceNOW. He described the show as an opportunity to share all parts of science with the public in a way that is easy to understand and interesting. The show’s website has episodes and information listed by scientific category: Health & Biosciences; Natural & Human Worlds; Physics & Space Science; Scientist Profiles; and Technology & Math.

I clicked on the link to Physics and found a great page all about CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. Websites like this are so important in expanding science literacy. Even now as I am reading Dan Brown’s book Angel & Demons, I am frustrated that his depiction of physics and of CERN are inaccurate, fully knowing most readers won’t do any research to find what information is correct and what is not. I hope that programs such as NOVA scienceNOW will aid in correcting myths about science.

For more information on Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, visit his official website.