Saturday, March 14, 2009

Astronomy Days

My children and I are studying Earth Science and Astronomy this year. I include myself in that because I am gaining an awful lot, too. I have actually learned more science in the three years we have homeschooled than in my entire public school science career. I did somehow manage to avoid science classes in college, but in retrospect I should have ditched the math classes for some non-lab science activities.

I love literature, history, and the humanities. A science person I am not. High school biology and chemistry are a blur, and a close friend and lab partner (thank you very much, Katie) dragged me through and helped me survive the year of high school physics. I still have nightmares about how my pulley just kept collapsing and would not come close to working, and don't even get me started on how screwed up it was that our school had us take physics before learning calculus. Let me tell you that I was not happy when I took calculus the following year and discovered lots of mathematical shortcuts that could have improved my physics experience.

Since I approach science with quite a bit of fear and trepidation, I am always looking for classes and activities to add to our family's experiences. Today, Curly Girl, Car Guy, and I attended Astronomy Days that was organized by our local Parks and Recreation department. It was great, and we had so much fun.

Car Guy performed an experiment where he dropped spheres of different weights and sizes into a tub of cocoa powder and baking soda to form craters. He then measured the craters' widths and depths to infer why the objects formed craters of varying sizes.

Curly Girl sweetly assisted her brother as he created a true-to-scale model of our solar system. For the record, Car Guy is rather bent out of shape and upset about Pluto no longer being classified as a planet.

Both kids shot off some rockets and played with some cool expanding ball thing (How is that for some advanced scientific lingo?) meant to mimic an expanding universe.

We also developed telescope envy and learned about an astronomy shop that we want to visit in Raleigh.

Unfortunately, it rained non-stop all weekend and forced the cancellation of the star-watch parties associated with Astronomy Days. I am woefully in need of some star-spotting assistance. When the kids and I trekked outside one night last week to do some sky-watching, we experienced some success (Orion's Belt, Bellatrix, Beetlegeuse, Castor, Pollux, Canis Minor), but those were about all the stars I could identify. I have found out that a local observatory has public viewings on clear Friday nights, though, so the kids and I are going to try to hit that in the next few weeks.

I think we may have discovered a new hobby over here. It is so peaceful to look at the stars. On a warm spring night, I can hardly wait to venture to a secluded spot in the country, toss a blanket in a field, and lay back to look at the stars. Even if no one else in the family is up for a jaunt, I may just go by myself.

1 comment:

  1. Hey - Hit me up when you know about one of these events. Or at least let me know how you are always in the know. The kids would love something like this!