Astronomy students used the NASA Eclipse site to investigate one solar and one lunar eclipse of their choosing that will occur later in this century. They figured out a point in the path of the umbra for the solar eclipse and a position on Earth for the lunar eclipse and then used Stellarium to view the eclipse. I am trying to impress upon them how predictable the universe is. The example shared here is for the August 21, 2017 eclipse as seen from South Carolina. Here is the animation (they love these and it shows the umbra and penumbra so well) and the details. The eclipse from Charleston will begin at 1:18 pm and totality will begin at 2:46. Below is the lunar eclipse, visible form the east coast in the early morning of April 15, 2014. Moon totally eclipsed from about 3:10 to 4:20 am.
The Big Grow started with The Big Plant. Students in IS I worked in the greenhouse workroom, filling their pots with the soil mixtures they decided on, and planting their flower seeds. Pots were then placed in the adjoining roof top greenhouse. Although we have drip lines available, students will hand-water their plants and monitor water usage.
After our stratigraphy studies we move on to faults. I love telling them about left (sinistral) and right (dextral) lateral faults and the origins of the terms. Students build their own small models that they can manipulate to show normal, reverse, lateral, and oblique faults. They can easily see if the land lengthens or shortens and therefore what type of forces might cause the faulting. I always ask what happens to the river when flowing SW and there is a normal fault and it gives me a chance to say, “what did the fish say when it swam into the concrete wall? . . . . .
I know that many fellow teachers write their own assessments (as I do) and have some clever favorite questions that they have used over the years. I want to hear from you if you are reading this and have one or two! This one is one of my favorites. I actually have students who think that these elements are real and that this really happens!
Students in IS I are studying soils as part of their Big Grow 2014 and needed a clear way to understand porosity and permeability. I dusted off this lab that we have not done in over 10 years (when we used to teach Earth and Space Science and did a groundwater unit). I still use the columns for a beach sand lab where students determine settling velocity. Sometimes there are classic experiences in the classroom and this is one of them. I meant to take photos of the students but they had such trouble with the simple directions that I was putting out fires all period. I decided we will repeat the lab tomorrow to see if the results are different/more reliable.
Students in IS I did a real hands on lab as they classified local soils by hand texturing and using a dichotomous key. We discussed soil types in the area and will be taking a look at this soil survey site. We discussed this chart and I showed them the screen sizes for sand and silt.
Students in IS I are going to embark on a plant growing/marketing project. They will investigate soil classification, pH, porosity, and permeability in conjunction with growing annuals that they will sell in late May. All groups also run an experiment as part of the Big Grow, manipulating a variable such as the amount of fertilizer or the type of soil. The highlight of the introduction of the project was the visit to the rooftop greenhouse. Most students at the HS never get to see the greenhouse and many don’t even know we have one.
Students worked on a correlation activity to better understand the Law of Superposition and relative time. Easier to use colors rather than rock types to start. This was the first year students were armed with cellphones and allowed to take photos. Made me think how different my geologic thesis work would have been if I had this technology in the field! The highlight of the day (for me) was having geologist Iain Stewart reply to (and favoriting) a tweet I sent to him. #sciencegeeksrule
We are watching an amazing BBC program (Part I of “Men of Rock”) about James Hutton and the birth of historical geology. We paused for some notes on the Laws of Stratigraphy and I couldn’t help asking students if they were familiar with Cole’s Law. Of course they said no and then I showed them this.
I don’t ask students to do this a lot but sometimes they just need to have the experience of doing a detailed sketch. We actually have vintage microviewers and students look at sets of photomicrographs when we study the Moon, telescopes, and the Sun in astronomy. Attention to detail and diagramming what one sees is a skill that won’t go away. The example above was done today by one of my students and really is exceptional. I also get to tell students about my favorite word; syzygy. Try writing it in cursive and all lower case!