Today, Prof. Silas Laycock, Andy, and I had the pleasure of travelling to Bresnahan Elementary School in Newburyport for an outreach activity with Mrs. Hoiseth’s 2nd grade classroom. Our morning with the class consisted of two main activities: making a scale model of our solar system and creating a thermometer with the temperatures of the planets. For the solar system, the students had to try and figure out what object was representing which planet and then order and space out themselves before learning the actual distances of the planets. The thermometer activity had students use their prior knowledge about everyday objects, such as soup and ice, and the solar system to order the planets by temperature on our giant thermometers. To demonstrate why Venus gets hotter than Mercury, we illustrated the greenhouse effect with a water bottle and alka-seltzer tablets under a heat lamp. During our few down moments (snack time), we even got the opportunity to talk about what it might smell like on other planets. We were so impressed with how smart the kids were and how much they had learned in about space in the hour and a half that we were there. We would like to thank the school and Mrs. Hoiseth for everything and are looking forward to helping in the future.
More updates to come,
In order to keep track of all of our outreach activities, we have created a wiki page with all of the different lessons that we have written. The wiki page can be accessed from the link provided below. Check back often as we will continue updating the activities! We are hoping to add in pictures, downloadable pdfs, and adding in more potential activities.
I hope that you have all enjoyed the start of the new year and the beginning of a new spring semester. Last semester was great for our astronomy outreach program. We worked closely with Robinson Middle School and with teachers Danielle Sherman, Kelly Sanborn, Cathryn Szymanoski, and Douglas Bishop to perform four astronomy activities with over 100 students. We created astronomy cards to help build student understanding of the relationships between celestial objects and how they compare to everyday items. We assisted classes in creating a physical scale model of the Solar System to help explain the usage of models in science and to illustrate the scale of the Solar System. Finally, we created cardboard tube telescopes, while providing an explanation of how they worked, with the students to use at the Star Party we threw, where students could go out one night and look at the stars and space using their own telescopes and high powered telescopes we provided. I would personally like to thank everyone who helped out to make our semester a success. Thank you Jun, Rigel, Sam, Andy, and Logan for assisting with the activities in the classroom, Prof. Silas Laycock for helping to get everything in motion and providing expertise throughout both in and out of the classroom. Prof. Viktor Podolskiy for assisting at our first outreach activity. Lynne for helping to order all of our supplies. Finally, Dan, thank you for everything you did in the classroom and in our group, enjoy your new school. You will be missed here.
In the new semester, we are striving to continue our efforts in local schools and in the community. We will continue to strengthen our partnership with Robinson Middle School and we hope to find new ways to assist in classroom now that their astronomy unit is over. We additionally will continue searching for more schools to assist with astronomy and physics education. We are hoping to continue hosting star parties and are looking forward to expanding our relationship with the North Shore Amateur Astronomy Club (NSAAC). I look forward to being able to write more posts in the future about everything we do this semester.