Tag Archives: space science

Sun-Earth-Moon Interactions

Good afternoon,

While doing some site maintenance today, I realized that I never actually published several of my class notes presentations, which doesn’t really mesh with my Knowledge is Power philosophy: “I believe that the free flow of information leads to informed decisions, which create an open and equitable society.” Therefore, I’m publishing every class presentation I’ve ever created. Whenever I discover one that hasn’t been shared, I’ll add it to the appropriate class and unit pages, as well as writing a brief post about the presentation here.

Today’s slides are from an 8th-grade astronomy unit that I developed a few years ago, focused on the MYP science concepts of relationships, movement, interactions, and patterns, I hope you find it useful.

Happy learning!

Mr K

Astronomy resources for students

Good morning!

Today I’m doing a little site maintenance, incorporating as many digital resources as possible into the various science pages on my website. The resources include simulations, videos, and activities created by other teachers and educational institutions. Instead of linking this blog post to a bunch of bookmarks I’ve saved over the years, I’ll just suggest that you check out my astronomy page under the “Sciences” tab on my homepage.

Among the many dozens of resources I’ve added, I think you’ll find something educational, engaging, and entertaining for a wide range of audiences.

Happy learning!

Celebrating Women in Astronomy

In honor of International Women’s Day, I am focusing today’s lessons in grade 8 science on the many contributions of women to the field of astronomy.

We start with an overview, courtesy of The Woman Astronomer, with stories of women from Hypatia of Alexandria and the “Harvard’s Computers” to Debra Fischer and Jill Tarter. Students will examine how these women have influenced our knowledge of the heavens throughout history.

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific also has a nice collection of short biographies about women who have contributed to the field of space science.

Then we’ll wrap up class with a showing of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos episode titled “Sisters of the Sun,” in which we explore not only the structure of the Sun and other stars, but the stories of Annie Jump Cannon and Henrietta Swan Leavitt.

Remember, every person on Earth owes his or her life to a strong woman – Mom!

Random Tidbits of Interesting Stuff

Good morning. It’s the last day of September, and if I lived in a temperate area, I would be anticipating the arrival of autumn’s cool weather and colorful leaves. Alas, I live in Dar es Salaam, where it’s hot, and the arrival of October just means it’s getting hotter.

At least the rising heat in Dar is a result of normal seasonal fluctuations caused by Earth’s tilted axis of rotation. That may not be the case for much of Europe and North America, according to a new study from Rutgers University, USA. Jennifer Francis claims that the ‘extreme’ weather events, which are becoming more and more common in North America, are tied to changes in Arctic sea ice levels.

Crazy weather and the jet stream. Image: screen capture from New Scientist.

Crazy weather and the jet stream. Image: screen capture from New Scientist.

And because I always read stories about the science of coffee, you should check out this article from New Scientist, outlining how researchers could use the gene sequence of robusta beans to brew the perfect cup of Joe. I’m not sure I like the idea of a scientifically-produced cappuccino. It still seems like it should remain art rather than science…

I was searching through Graphite.org again over the weekend, and this list of top picks for science apps has been sitting open on my browser since then. I haven’t had a chance to explore these apps in depth, but there seem to be some pretty good ones in this list.

And last but not least, the obligatory astronomy plug: Jupiter’s moon Europa, one of the best candidates for finding life elsewhere in our solar system, is covered by a thick layer of ice that moves around in much the same way that tectonic plates shift on the surface of our home planet.

Zero Shadow Day is Coming!

Good morning! Some exciting tidbits in my news feed this morning (exciting for us science and astronomy nerds, at least) – the Day of Zero Shadows is rapidly approaching Dar es Salaam! Thanks to our local space gurus at Astronomy in Tanzania for this update.

Screen capture from Zero Shadow Day, Rugved Pund,  Jyotirvidya Parisanstha,  Pune, India.

Screen capture from Zero Shadow Day, Rugved Pund,
Jyotirvidya Parisanstha,
Pune, India.

Between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer, the Sun is directly overhead exactly twice every year, and when that happens, objects cast no shadow whatsoever. It’s all due to the perfect alignment of that place on Earth’s surface with the Sun, 153,000,000 km away. You can find some more information on Zero Shadow moments here and here.

For my room in the science building, my Zero Shadow Moment will happen at exactly 12:10pm on Saturday, 11 October 2014. It’s not like a Mayan end-of-times prediction (which was falsely misinterpreted by archaeologists, by the way), but it’s a cool twice-a-year phenomenon that’s unique to only a few places on the planet. And the fact that it’s dependent on a giant ball of hydrogen and helium gas undergoing nuclear fusion 8.3 light minutes away just adds to the cool factor. Check out this online calculator to see if you can’t see your shadow either, wherever you live