MARLEY GRADE SCHOOL EVENT
This was one fun, hot event! Jessica Carleton, 2nd grade teacher at Marley Park in Surprise invited WVAC to do a presentation to augment the Earth, Moon, and Sun unit. This unit is required curriculum for 2nd grade in Maricopa Public Schools. Janie Randle, Treasurer, being interested in community outreach agreed to lead this event. Bob Randle sent out an email to club members asking for participation. Michael Weinberg said he would like to help and that he had a solar filter for his 8 inch scope. Bob Randle also made a filter for his 6 inch scope. So it was decided that despite the heat we would have the students view the sun as our primary activity. Bob and Carolyn Colvert brought out cards with holes punched in them to show students a different way to look at the sun if they did not have a scope. Janie put together a few demonstrations with materials that were just received from Night Sky Network. Ron Langlois had volunteered to help but his brother came into town and he had to help with RV repairs. Anyone with an RV knows about that!
So at 7:45 on August 30 we arrived at Marley Park School. We had to hand over our driver’s license, sign in, and receive a visitor badge. Times have certainly changed. Thank goodness we were able to drive into the fenced area and set up the scopes near our vehicles. Did I mention yet how hot it was? Yikes. Anyway, we displayed several posters of the moon. Bob and Michael got right on the task of aligning their scopes. Michael, Bob C. and Bob R. had a difficult time aligning Michaels scope but with some ingenuity they got the job done. Dang that Sun is bright. Then they put white sheets over the scopes to try to keep them cooler.
Bob C. brought a spotting scope and he was going to demonstrate how to use it in reverse to get the sun to shine on the ground. But we had to put the scope away when one of the teachers tried to look through it.
Being our first event of this kind, we had to wing it a bit. Janie and Bob and several conversations with the teacher and they also visited the school so they some idea of what to expect. The visit to the school was in the afternoon so they didn’t think to question where the shade was in the morning. Luckily the school had some pop-up tents so we were able to create some much needed shade.
As the students arrived that morning, they lined up to see the sun. They were all really excited. It turned out there were five 2nd grade classes with 28 students per class…well, let’s just say lots of students had the opportunity to view the sun. A few even tried to sneak back in line. We got through the line in about 30 minutes.
While the students waited in line, Janie and Carolyn had the students do an experiment with moon phases. Most students thought that was really cool.
The students returned to their respective classrooms. We went into each classroom for a brief presentation. We of course told the students that they should never look at the sun and that we had special equipment to view the sun. We told them that right now the sun was pretty much asleep but when it started to wake up it would have spots and flares…we showed them pictures of this.
We spent some time taking about the night sky and did try to impress on the students that they did not need special equipment and they should “JUST LOOK UP” at the night sky. We taught them about the tools they did have: eyes, hand for measurements, and maybe a star book, as well as a good imagination. We had them look into a small telescope and spotting scope at a picture of the moon that had the “Man in the Moon” circled. We told them the story of Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, and how to find the North Star. Then they had a slide show of the Milky Way and Solar System.
We all had a lot of fun. We offered to return next school year and present again, adopting Marley School for outreach. We also decided that since we were looking for a venue for the International Observe the Moon Night that we could do it right across the street in the park and hopefully many of these students will come with their parents/siblings to observe the moon, constellations, and other heavenly bodies. It will be a great follow up for them. Jessica Carleton said she would email all parents of the event.
Thank you to Michael Weinberg, Bob and Carolyn Colvert, Bob and Janie Randle for making this a successful event.