Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Catching Up & Stars

We rounded out our investigation of the universe with a study of stars.  My lessons and activities can be downloaded here.

I'm not satisfied with this unit, and will be looking to beef it up next year; particularly the study of the a star life cycle.  Something to do this summer!!!

However, our construction of the H-R diagram really helps students how temperature, color, and size are related.

This takes a couple of days.  The graphing of the data is time-consuming, and students need some help at first.  A timer is useful to help keep students focused while doing this.
We spent one class period graphing and the next processing and going over the H-R diagram.
Next year I want to do a much better job with the life cycle of stars before we do this activity.  I think it will make a much more coherent flow for the kids.

Catching Up & Galaxies

A lot went on this fall.  My school had an accreditation visit. There are some departmental issues as well. All on top of the day-to-day things that go on in schools.  It made for an extremely busy semester.

I am going to spend some time this holiday to reflect on the big or new lessons and activities I did this fall.

We did a couple of things with galaxies. Copies of my lessons can be found here.

The first investigation we did was Classifying Galaxies.  I modified a NASA lesson (updated photographs, students sheet) to have students first develop a classification system for 15 galaxies, and then use the Hubble Tuning Fork for a more official classification. Finally, students compared the two systems.

My students were fascinated by the photos.  I printed and laminated a class set of color photos.  I have a Scotch thermal laminator for my personal use.  Seriously one of the best investments I have ever made for school.  Anyway, the kids loved the photos.  Something about the beauty of space really resonated with y students this year.

This is a fairly straight-forward lesson.  Students complete it in one class perios and we process it the next day.  

A follow-up to this lesson is Galaxy Zoo.  After we discussed the classification of galaxies, I spent a little time describing the idea of Citizen Science.  I explained the importance of it, and then showed them the options on Zooniverse. We spent the rest of the class period working partners to describe galaxies in the project. Galaxy Zoo.

Several of students have particpted in other projects on their own!! Yay!  I love it when they get involvled, even when it's not science.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


CAST - the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching - is the annual conference put on by the Science Teachers Association of Texas (STAT).  CAST is the largest state science conference in the nation, typically 6000-7000 attendees participate each year.
With that large of a conference, it is always worth my time to attend.
This year was no exception.

From the Bureau of Economic Geology: