This week we celebrated the Winter Solistice, the “shortest day of the year”, when the earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun. In the southern hemisphere, this is June 20th or 21st, when the sun rises later and sets earlier than any other day of the year.Check out “Astronomy Connections” for an interactive explanation of the seasons.
Next term, Year 6 and 7 students will be starting a unit of work on our solar system. This 6 minute YouTube video from the Hayden Planetarium and American Museum includes every satellite, moon, planet, star and galaxy in the Known Universe. Anyone with an iPod Touch can install the following applications to help them to learn about our Solar System (Thanks Jenny Ashby for your comment!)
- 8Planets – animations, information and quiz about our solar system
- Planets by Q continium – A 3D guide to the solar system for aspiring astronomers.
- Grand Tour 3D – Space travel on a budget
- planetFacts – size and distance scale and dictionary
- NASA app including images, videos, information about launches, when you can sight, orbit trackers and countdown clocks.
- Stars by Nelix displaying 88 constellations – does not use network.
- Star Walk ($2.99) 5 stars astronomy guide
- Space Images by NASA – You can rate, email and save images.
- Star map ($11.99) Planetarium in your hand with 350,000 stars!
- ABC TV has a free vodcast “Voyage to the Planets” that you can download or subscribe to.
- Don’t forget Stellarium on your netbooks
- Celestia (space simulation) is another free (Open Source) download for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.
Students will have a choice of activities including:
- Write a postcard “Back to Earth” about the conditions on one of the planets around our sun.
- Write a brochure for tourists about space travel.
- Use “Voicethread” , “Powerpoint” or “Photostory” to describe our solar system to aliens from ‘outer space’.
- A 60-second science video advertising one of the planets as a tourist destination
- Create a digital story about the planet you would most like to visit and how you would survive there.
- Use “Blabberise” to record an alien invader’s report back to his home planet about the Earth’s solar system.
Year 7 students have read and answered revision questions from Chapter 8: Our Place in Space while I have been away on Rubicon camp last week. Our first activity when I return will be to list as many things as you can that you might find in space in an alphabet brainstorm – A (astronaut, asteroid); B (betelgeuse, Big bang) etc. Then go to this poster and identify objects in our observable universe.
Your assessment task for this unit will be to create a postcard from one of the eight planets, describing the conditions there – temperature, climate, day and year length, distance from the earth, number of moons and any other interesting information. Pretend you have travelled there on a space mission and you are writing a postcard back to earth. Make sure you include an image of your planet. You could use Flickr (creative commons) or the NASA website to search for images. The free poster from the Herald Sun on Monday July 13th may be useful for this.
Have you ever wondered about your learning style – how you learn best? The Edutopia blog has an on-line Learning Styles quiz – 25 questions, takes less than 5 minutes to complete and gives you a % rating for each of eight types of learner (visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, intrapersonal, interpersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, naturalistic).
Ingenious is a site with the ability to search over 30,000 science and technology images from the Science Museum, National Railway Museum and the National Museum of Film, Photography and Television.
The Whiteboard Blog , from the UK, has some excellent resources, including a post with “Powerful Images to give Lesson’s Punch” and links to Science resources.
This interactive animation, from a NZ site, shows how the planets in our solar system rotate around the sun. This is a great tool to assist students to visualize the scale of the solar system and how planets orbit.
Glogster allows you to create online posters for wikis and blogs, using templates and your own images and text. Here is an example of how a science teacher at Fairview Park High School, in Ohio, uses Glogster EDU.
Stixy is a site for creating an on-line noticeboard for sharing ideas, images and links. Anne Mirtschin has used it with students to ask “What would you like changed in our school canteen?”. I’d like to see one for our Year 11 students to comment on their recent two-week work experience in Melbourne.
SchoolTube is another site where you can search and share student videos. SchoolTube is the recognized leader for moderated, internet media sharing for teachers and students. All student created materials on SchoolTube must be approved by registered teachers, follow local school guidelines, and adhere to high standards.