9/20/09

Gigagalaxy Zoom

I heard about a new website called Gigagalaxy Zoom. This is a picture of the galaxy as it looks in our sky. This site gives you the chance to explore the Milky Way. According to the website, "Through three giant images, the GIGAGALAXY ZOOM project reveals the full sky as it appears with the unaided eye from one of the darkest deserts on Earth, then zooms in on a rich region of the Milky Way using a hobby telescope..."

Take some time and explore our home galaxy!

9/13/09

Cool Space Pictures


This picture looks like a picture of Earth. This is Hales Gully on Mars taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The small shadow on Saturn's ring is from the moon Tethys. The large shadow in Saturn. 2009 is the first time we've been able to get pictures like this. This photo was taken by the Cassini probe orbiting Saturn.

Solar flares taken by the TRACE spacecraft September 5, 2005.

Have you ever wondered what a solar eclipse would look like from space? NASA Images writes that "(t)his spectacular picture of the Aug. 11, 1999 solar eclipse was one of the last ever taken from the Mir space station."

video

The Sun has been "quiet" over 80% of 2009. For a near record 51 days, there have been no sunspots. If there is no change, this will be the quietest the Sun has been in nearly 100 years. This movie is the SOHO Pick of the Week.

9/12/09

9/11 Thoughts


The Student Council decided to do a special activity for 9/11. One of the member's father is going to New York on a business trip. Her mother made a large banner so we could have students sign it as a remembrance of 9/11. Her father will take it with him, have a picture taken of the banner at Ground Zero, and will leave it there letting the world know our students will remember this atrocity. The banner with all the students' signatures looked great. I think it was a great activity.

One of my thoughts, in particular, was philosophical. I remembered that a flag was flying amid the rubble. (I have had the opportunity to see this battered flag in the Smithsonian a few years ago. It was a very emotional experience.) For me, this was a particular spiritual message. It was as though G-d was saying, "Yes, I know that you've suffered a painful and horrific atrocity inflicted by evil people. Remember, this flag still stands. It represents the strength of America's principles and its people. As painful as today will always be, you will survive and become stronger."

I know we don't always live up to our principles. We're human and seem to frequently fall short of our ideals. Yet, Americans are striving to make America better. America is still true the beacon of liberty to the entire world.

9/7/09

First Week Over!

Friday ended the first week of school. Mrs. Chornous asked the Student Council to help with the Welcome Back assembly on Friday. We spent the week working on what they needed to do. I was absolutely delighted with their performance. They worked hard, and it showed. They were outstanding. We're fortunate to have such a great group of students in our Student Council this year.

Even though it's only been one week, I'm already a day behind. The astrolabe activity went longer than I hoped. It was more complicated than I expected. I now know do not start with the astrolabe activity ever again.

Now we're done with the first week of school, it's time for me to begin organizing the 7th grade GAVRT team. I'm hoping to have the team organized, trained, and working on their first assignment with the radio telescope by the first of October. Once the 7th grade team is organized, I'll begin organizing the 6th grade team.

9/3/09

First Week

It's been a good week so far. I really like the classes I have.

It's strange how students end up getting assigned to classes. In my 1st and 5th hour classes, I have between 8 and 10 girls and the rest boys. In my 2nd and 6th hour classes, I have between 8 and 10 boys and the rest girls. My 3rd hour class has 18 boys and 14 girls. It's odd how these things can turn out.

We have our welcome back to school assembly tomorrow. The Student Council will have a big part in the assembly. They've been working on their presentations. I have no doubt they'll do well. They are a great group of young women and men. I have enjoyed getting to know them this week. It's going to be a great year.

I started another gifted and talented class last night. Let's just say I was less than enthused about the instructor. She cut off class discussion (about the chapters) which I felt was quite interesting and informative. Then she read from the book, looked at her notes, talked, read from the book, and so forth. The class was supposed to end at 6:30 p.m. At 6:55 she ended the class (and there was no formal class break in that entire time). By 6:30, I was fuming thinking about the time I was wasting when I had projects that need my attention. Wasted time instead of productive time. I honestly don't want to go back to the class; however, getting the endorsement is important to me, so I'll continue. I'm grateful Donna Capasso, one of the science teachers at my school, is in the class. We get along great. I hate to say it, but the more bored we became, the more we talked and joked. Three other people at the table joined in. One student tried to pay attention. While I felt sorry for her, I guess I didn't feel bad enough to stop. Shame on me. We behaved in a way that would not have been acceptable under any circumstances in my class (once again proving teachers make the worst students!). There is no way our instructor could have been unaware of the behavior. She just ignored it and plugged on, boring us even more. Maybe she'll improve over the next few weeks. One can hope!

9/1/09

First Two Days

It's been a good first two days. The only problem we face is hot classrooms. I feel bad for our students having to learn in the environment. Things will be more comfortable by the middle of September.

I've got great classes. Most of the students enjoy the challenge I've been giving my 6th graders. I am having them make astrolabes and learn how to use them. Once they do, I'll teach them how to determine the altitude of the Sun. They will measure the Sun's altitude once a week for the next twelve weeks. I'm doing this so they will be able to see how the Sun appears to move in the sky over a period of time.

I had a bad experience today in my 1st hour class. I started to explain what we were going to measure and how we were going to do use the astrolabe to make the measurements. My explanation didn't go very well. (I had dug myself into a hole!) I tried two or three different approaches but none of them worked very well. I felt like every time I tried a new approach, I ended up digging myself deeper into a hole instead of climbing out.

By the third time I explained things (5th hour), I had greatly improved upon my explanations and my students understood what I was telling them. I feel bad for 1st hour. I mess things up, but get better as the day goes on. At least I will be able to actually explain using an approach they will understand.