ISS Commander Captures Unprecedented View of Comet Lovejoy

ISS Commander Dan Burbank captured spectacular images of Comet Lovejoy as seen from about 240 miles above the Earth's horizon on Wednesday, December 21st.  Burbank described seeing the comet as "the most amazing thing I have ever seen in space," in an interview with WDIV-TV in Detroit.

Thursday, December 22nd

In the morning, students went to a joint choir-band-orchestra concert.  After that was over, students who did not have any missing work made piƱatas.  After lunch, the activities continued for the next hour.  In the afternoon, students watched a school-wide film, Cars 2.  Have a Merry Christmas and we’ll continue exploring our Solar System in January!


Wednesday, December 21st - Winter Solstice!

This morning, we had a breakfast for the students.  The Student Council had a service project where students donated clothing, food, and other supplies for a local charity.  The winners would be served breakfast by the losers.  At the end, the girls brought in more than the boys did, so the boys served the girl breakfast.  A good time was had by all.  With Christmas break coming up, I decided not to start a new project.  Students watched Traveler’s Guide to the Planets – Jupiter or an episode of Mythbusters.  They were able to work on missing work during the video.


Tuesday, December 20th

Students continued working Planets Workbook assignment - Complete pgs.6-10 - Kids Discover - Planets Worksheet.  We finished watching Traveler' Guide to the Planets - Mars in the afternoon.  Started watching Traveler' Guide to the Planets - Jupiter in the afternoon.


Monday, December 1`9th

Today we finished reading Kids Discover - Planets as a class.

Students started working on a Planets Workbook assignment - Complete pgs.6-10 - Kids Discover - Planets Worksheet.

In the afternoon, we watched Traveler' Guide to the Planets - Mars.


The Journey of Comet Lovejoy

The last two days have been exciting for astronomers and comet watchers.  A bright comet, Comet Lovejoy, flew very close to the Sun.  Astronomers expected the Comet to vaporize as it flew behind the Sun.  Much to most everyone’s surprise, Comet Lovejoy survived the journey.  The nucleus survived, but the Sun tore off its dust tail.  Here’s a picture taken by the SOHO probe observing the Sun. 

A series of movies were put together showing the Comet’s journey around the Sun.  You can see them at the SOHO Pick of the Week webpage.


Friday, December 16th

We began working on the Kids Discover – Planets magazine assignments.  Students answered ten questions on pg. 5 in the Planets Workbook.  The ten questions are true/false questions.  Students answer them based on their current knowledge by placing a “T” or “F” in the “Before Reading” column.

We read the first seven pages in the magazine as a class.  I have found that when students have a read the magazine/answer questions assignment, they want to jump right in and answer the questions without reading the entire magazine.  There’s a lot of good information in the magazine I want the students to learn.  That’s why I decided we would read it as a class.


Thursday, December 15th

We began working on the Planets WorkbookWe completed the assignment, Can You Planet, pgs. 1-4. Using a planetary table, students classified the planets.  They completed two Venn diagrams.  The first classified planets according to whether they just had moons, just had rings, or had both moons and rings.  The second Venn diagram classified planets according to three characteristics:  has moon, has rings, and is larger than Earth.

In the afternoon, students finished watching Traveler's Guide to the Planets - Venus and Mercury.


Wednesday, December 14th

Today we finished Solar System Lecture and completed taking the unit notes.

In the afternoon, we finished watching NOVA: The Pluto Files. We began watching Traveler's Guide to the Planets - Venus & Mercury.


Tuesday, December 13th

We continued Solar System Lecture.  We will finish it tomorrow.  Students continued completing their notes during lecture.

In the afternoon, student began watching  NOVA: The Pluto Files.  This episode discusses the controversy over changing the classification of Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet.


Monday, December 12th

Today we began the Solar System Unit (Standard III:  Students will understand the relationship and attributes of objects in the Solar System).

We began the Solar System Lecture.  While listening to the lecture, student were to complete the unit notes.    

In the afternoon, students watched 95 Worlds and Counting.  They also took notes during the video.  When we talk about the Solar System, we usually talk about the planets.  We tend to ignore the moons. This video selects a few moons in the Solar System and presents them to the students.


Friday, December 9th

We began the planets unit today.  Students work on some planet, comet, and asteroid worksheets. set of worksheets.  To complete the worksheets, they need to use a solar system fact sheet.  One of the skills students develop is learning how to use solar system tables to provide information about the components of the solar system.

Based on student interest, I put together a radio telescope team.  Today was our first session.  We supported the quasar variable study campaign.  A quasar is an active radio galaxy.  It’s putting out a lot of radio energy because of a black hole in the core of the galaxy.  Scientists at NASA (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) are using this information.  The team consists of twenty students.  All twenty students were involved today so they had the opportunity to learn how we do our sessions.  In the future, only ten students will participate in a session.


Thursday, December 8th

We finished the seasons unit final exam today.  Our next unit will be the solar system unit (Standard III:  Students will understand the relationship and attributes of objects in the solar system).

Today was also the last day for students to do research on the Solar WebQuest.  Students will begin working on their presentations Monday.