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"You know Orion always comes up sideways,
Throwing a leg up over our fence of mountains,
And rising on his hands, he looks in on me
Busy outdoors by lantern-light with something
I should have done by daylight..."
- The Star-Splitter, Robert Frost

Visit the Sandburg Sky Poetry Web page, including CSMS student-authored sky poems.
Sandburg Center for Sky Awareness
A Fairfax County Public Schools Planetarium

'00-01 Past WoWs! | '99-00 Past WoWs! | '98-99 Past WoWs!

Website of the Week (WoW!)

Every week from October through May, the SCSA will feature one interesting sky-related Web site. Ideally, the Web site will be related to a current topic of interest (e.g., a site related to cloud identification featured during "Sky Awareness Week") and could be used by classroom teachers to deliver timely, high-interest cross-curricular instruction. The Website of the Week will be updated on Monday of each week.

Editor's Note: Be advised, WoW! goes on Summer hiatus beginning 31 May; WoW! will return October '01.

28 May 2001 - Lightning Safety

During the past week, several severe thunderstorm events blew through the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, prompting us to offer some very timely weather safety information.

    Take cover! Lightning is the second deadliest weather hazard (second only to flash flooding). Learn how to minimize your risk by visiting the following lightning-related Web sites:
    • Know the enemy! Questions and Answers About Lightning, prepared by the NOAA/NWS National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL).
    • "Generally speaking, if an individual can see lightning and/or hear thunder he/she is already at risk." Updated Recommendations for Lightning Safety - 1998, is a report from the NSSL Lightning Safety Group which provides potentially life-saving information regarding appropriate action to take when threatened by lightning.
    • Is lightning a current (pun intended!) weather hazard where you live? For a view of all lightning activity in the continental United States, visit Lightning Explorer, featuring actual lightning information from the National Lightning Detection Network. (Courtesy Global Atmospherics, Inc. Requires Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.x and 4.x or Netscape 4.x. "Cookies" are used and must be accepted by your Web browser.)

    Suggested Teaching StrategyTeacher Tip: The Weather Channel Project SafeSide - a free collection of cross-curricular lesson plans and activities that teach students how to prepare for severe weather and natural hazards, including lightning, floods, tornadoes, extreme heat, hurricanes, winter weather, and earthquakes. Designed for grades 4-12.

Past WoWs!

21 May 2001 - Top 10 Reasons to Look Up!

    Five (5) reasons for openers, plus one-a-day each day of the week beginning 21 May.

    1. "It all begins with the simple act of looking up. The look skyward is the beginning of quests and questioning, because where our gaze goes, our mind follows." - Donna B. Smith, Vanderbilt University
    2. The sky is the greatest show on Earth. Well, above the Earth. And it's FREE! It costs nothing (other than a little time) to look up and feast your eyes upon the view (or, if you are confined indoors, to look out and up).
    3. The sky is dynamic and ever-changing. The sky is a piece of classical music; nature composes endless sky symphonies. Can't "hear" the music at night? Perhaps it's because you live in a light-polluted urban area. According to Fred Schaaf, Editor, Sky & Telescope magazine, "Growing up with light pollution is like never being allowed to hear music." Turn up the volume--go to a rural location under a really dark, star-filled sky! Or visit your local planetarium.
    4. Many skies are simply spectacular to behold. There is no better way to say it--the sky is often magnificently beautiful! It's pleasing to the eye and stirs the soul.
    5. Being aware of the sky gives you a sense of connectedness with Nature. We need to remember that our roots are in Nature. An appropriate metaphor is the difference between rooted and cut flowers--eventually, cut flowers die!
    6. Because Chicken Little was right! Well, sort of. The sky is not falling, but sometimes stuff falls from the sky! Like flooding rain. Or lightning. On average, flash flooding and lightning are the number one & two deadliest weather hazards, respectively. Being sky aware can help to minimize the risk of personal injury or property damage. (Monday, 21 May 2001)
    7. Look for shapes in the clouds during the day (technically known as nephelococcygia); look for patterns among the stars at night, like the Constellation(s) of the Month. (Tuesday, 22 May 2001)
    8. Learn to identify the 10 basic cloud types: cirrus, cirrocumulus, cirrostratus, altocumulus, altostratus, nimbostratus, stratocumulus, stratus, cumulus, and cumulonimbus. It's helpful to have a reference such as the Skywatcher's Cloud Chart that shows pictures of the basic and unusual clouds, with names and descriptions. (Wednesday, 23 May 2001)
    9. Look for optical phenomena such as sundogs, halos, coronae, contrails, etc. Watch the sunrise or sunset; ponder why the sky is red (or blue). Observe "Earthshine" on the Moon. Watch a meteor shower. (Thursday, 24 May 2001)
    10. Feel "grounded" by looking up. Huh? Yep, if you can locate Polaris, the North Star, then you know your latitude on Earth (in the Northern Hemisphere, the altitude of the North Star equals the latitude of the observer). For an explanation of a simple star-hopping trick that can be used to find Polaris, visit the August Constellation of the Month Web page. (Friday, 25 May 2001)
    11. There's more than meets the eye! Using a pair of binoculars or an inexpensive telescope, see phenomena invisible to the unaided eye such as craters on the Moon, the Galilean Moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, star clusters (e.g., the Pleiades), and the Andromeda Galaxy, to name a few interesting targets. (Bonus Item)
    12. "Things are looking up!" "Nothing but blue skies from now on." "The sky's the limit!" "Shoot for the Moon--even if you miss, you will land among the stars." Colorful expressions such as these enrich the language and suggest that good things happen when you look up. Make good things happen in your life--look up more often! (Bonus Item)

    Adapted (with permission) from 10 Reasons to Look UP! by Dr. John Day, a.k.a., the "Cloudman."

14 May 2001 - Top 10 Reasons to Preserve the FCPS Planetarium Program

    1. It's fun to visit a planetarium! Teachers and students enjoy visiting the planetarium and learn a lot during their visit, and we have the survey data which shows clearly that the FCPS Planetarium Program is extraordinarily successful!
    2. We have space for everyone! The nine FCPS Planetaria serve every student enrolled in Grade Level 4, 5, & 6, delivering high-quality, hands-on instruction which meets or exceeds the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) and FCPS Program of Studies (POS) in astronomy and meteorology. In addition, the planetaria are used frequently by school and community groups such as PTAs, civic associations, adult education classes, and boy & girl scout troops.
    3. The sky touches everyone! A visit to the planetarium is a multisensory aesthetic experience that provides immeasurable motivation for many students. For Spacious Skies, a non-profit national effort to increase sky awareness and concern, reports compelling evidence of increased academic performance as a result of increasing students' sky awareness. In 1986, a Harvard study of sky-based learning proved that "sky-aware" students surpass "non-sky" students in several areas of learning, including music appreciation, literary skills, and visual arts skills. Another case in point: read the sky poetry written by Carl Sandburg Middle School Grade Level 7 Language Arts students after their visit to the planetarium--very compelling evidence that the FCPS Planetarium Program is extraordinarily inspiring!
    4. Anytime--day or night, rain or shine--sit back, relax, look up and behold the beauty and the wonder of the night sky! The unique 3-D immersive environment of the planetarium is the ideal environment in which to learn about astronomy and meteorology.
    5. Virtual reality is far better than reality! As a result of urban light pollution, we see only the 25-or-so brightest stars in the real sky and familiar constellations such as the Big Dipper and Orion the Hunter are often difficult to see. Another sad fact-of-life in a major urban area: in many neighborhoods, it's unsafe for unsupervised young children to go outside at night to skywatch. In contrast, the planetarium--which shows the sky as it would appear in a more pristine environment--provides a safe, stimulating place for children to learn about the sky.
    6. "Oh, I get it!" The nine FCPS planetarium teachers are uniquely qualified to deliver instruction in astronomy and meteorology that is scientifically accurate yet interesting and accessible to younger students. Among the nine FCPS planetarium teachers, one team member is formerly Secretary and President of the Middle Atlantic Planetarium Society (MAPS) and is currently a member of the MAPS Board of Directors; she is also serving her third term as Secretary of the International Planetarium Society (IPS). Another planetarium teacher is an American Meteorological Society "Atmospheric Education Resource Agent."
    7. The FCPS Planetarium Program is a bright shining star in the constellation of Fairfax County Public Schools! It distinguishes the school system: most school systems don't have a single planetarium; FCPS has nine! The FCPS Planetarium Program Web site (including the Sandburg Center for Sky Awareness) attracts national and international recognition of the academic excellence of FCPS.
    8. The nine FCPS planetarium teachers are truly a bargain, routinely providing the same services as planetariums staffed with five or six positions! Regular duties include scheduling, programming, evaluating program efficacy, provisioning, and performing routine maintenance.
    9. The investment of approximately $10 million in equipment & facilities has been made already. In reality, it actually costs relatively little to maintain the program. Other than staff salaries, modest financial outlays for annual maintenance (of the planetarium equipment) and field trip transportation are the primary expenses. Bottom line: as long as the equipment is operational, FCPS students should benefit from its use!
    10. Less is more? Not always. Sometimes, less costs more! It would actually cost a lot of money to close the nine FCPS Planetaria. In addition to the loss of its initial investment in equipment, the school system would have to incur the cost to renovate and repurpose the facilities, perhaps as much as a quarter-million dollars per facility!

07 May 2001 - Looking@Earth Online

    Look Up! No, look down! Huh? Visit the new Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Looking@Earth Online Exhibit. "The Looking at Earth gallery first opened to the public May 8, 1986 in the National Air and Space Museum on the Mall in Washington, D.C. It documents the changing ways that we have viewed our planet from above. This online version is part of an ongoing effort by the NASM web site to create a 'virtual' representation of each of the physical galleries of the museum. Each completed online gallery brings as much information as possible from the the physical gallery to the Internet visitor."

30 April 2001 - Space Day/Cyber Space Day

    SCSA Proud to be a Friend of Space DayThursday, 03 May 2001, Washington, D.C. The fifth annual Space Day, which celebrates the achievements, benefits, and opportunities in the human exploration of outer space, kicks off at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. Spearheading the festivities is the event's spokesperson, NASA astronaut and former U.S. Senator John H. Glenn Jr. Cyber Space Day is a live, interactive Webcast (archives of past Webcasts also available online). The theme for Space Day/Cyber Space Day 2001: "Living and Working in Space."

    Suggested Teaching StrategiesTeacher Tips: Visit Teachers' Space for a variety of space-related classroom activities in the Lesson Library. Students should enjoy a little open-ended exploration of cyberspace by visiting 101 Ways to Embrace Space.

23 April 2001 - Sky Poetry/National Poetry Month

    Poetry Under the StarsSaturday, 28 April, 6 p.m. Inspired by the innovative Sandburg Sky Poetry interdisciplinary instructional unit, the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum free Monthly Star Lecture utilizes "the unique capabilities of the planetarium" as "the perfect backdrop for an evening of poetry" under the stars--a delightful way to celebrate one of the last few days of National Poetry Month!

16 April 2001 - Me and My Shadow

02 April 2001 - The Date of Easter

    Every year, Easter occurs on the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox (e.g., the Spring Equinox occurred on 20 March 2001, the next Full Moon occurrs on 08 April, and Easter is Sunday, 15 April). Well, usually. For more details, visit The Date of Easter Web page, including the Easter Calculator.

    Webmaster's Note: WoW! takes a break--Spring Break, that is--during the week beginning 09 April 2001. WoW! will return on 16 April. With apologies to non-Christians, Happy Easter!

26 March 2001 - VA Severe Weather Awareness Week

    Tornado!Virginia Governor Gilmore has declared Tuesday, 27 March 2001, "Tornado Preparedness Day." Visit the NOAA National Weather Service Office of Meteorology Severe Weather Awareness Web site for an online Tornado Preparedness Guide, including information regarding tornado safety in schools. Preparedness Guides for other weather hazards are available online also. A GUIDE TO DEVELOPING A SEVERE WEATHER EMERGENCY PLAN FOR SCHOOLS, by Barbara McNaught Watson, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the NWS Baltimore/Washington Forecast Office, is a "must read" for school safety planners.

19 March 2001 - Astronomy-Related Flags

    Alaska State FlagThe Alaska state flag (shown left) features the Big Dipper, an asterism in Ursa Major, one of the more prominent constellations visible from the Northern Hemisphere. The "Pointer Stars"--the two stars at the end of the cup of the Big Dipper--form a straight line which points toward Polaris, the North Star (upper-right corner of flag). As the northernmost state in the United States, Alaska's state flag literally says Alaska is the "star of the north."

    Suggested Teaching StrategyTeacher Tip: Challenge students to discover some of the many astronomy-related flags from countries around the world by visiting the Flags and Facts Web page. Use a world map and push-pins to locate countries with astronomy-related flags. Hint: There are lots of flags with stars, crescent moons, and suns. One of the more interesting astronomy-related flags is the flag of Brazil. Visit The Stars on the Flag of Brazil for an explanation of the star patterns shown on the flag. Also worth a look: the flags of South Carolina (Waxing Crescent Moon), Australia (the Southern Cross). and Turkey (Waning Crescent Moon and Crab Nebula Supernova).

12 March 2001 - Sky Awareness Week & Astronomy Week/Day

Up!Plan to celebrate National Sky Awareness Week (NSAW), April 22-28, 2001. Its theme is: "THE SKY - Where Meteorology Meets the Heavens and the Earth."

    This year, Astronomy Week/Day coincides with NSAW: Astronomy Week is April 23-29, 2001; Astronomy Day is April 28th. For the first time, Astronomy Day has a special theme: "Sun-Earth Day." The NASA Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum has set up a special Web site providing Astronomy Day theme-related resources.

05 March 2001 - Skywatcher's Guide to the Moon

26 February 2001 - Stellar Evolution & Death/NASA Observatorium

    Like people, stars live and die in a much longer life cycle than humans. Explore the lives of stars by visiting the NASA Observatorium Stellar Evolution & Death Web site, then test your knowledge by taking the SE&D Quiz.

    Suggested Teaching StrategiesTeacher Tips: As an extension/enrichment activity following the FCPS Grade Level 5 Planetarium Program, Stars and Constellations, provide students with the opportunity to explore the Stellar Evolution & Death Web site. For other pre-visit & post-visit instructional activities, visit the SCSA Site Visits Web page, including annotated links to a variety of Related Internet Information Resources which may be used to extend/enrich the Stars and Constellations unit.

19 February 2001 - Weather Underground Astronomy/Shapes of Snow Crystals

    Weather Underground Astronomy
    Visit the Weather Underground Washington, DC Forecast Web page, then follow the link to "Astronomy" for an interactive night sky image generated with Distant Suns (commercial planetarium software). Not as good as a visit to your local planetarium, but hey, not bad!

    Shapes of Snow Crystals
    Did you notice the shape of the snow crystals which fell upon Washington, D.C. during the 22 FEB '01 snowstorm? They were needles, not dendrites (the stereotypical snowflake shape). Can you infer the air temperature at cloud level?

12 February 2001 - Happy Valentines Day...

    ...from Mars!!! Check out the cool image of a Martian heart-shaped surface feature captured by the Mars Global Surveyor. Men may be from Mars, but clearly we have a romantic side for all to see!

29 JAN/05 FEB 2001 - AMS Interactive Infrared Weather Satellite Image

    22,300 miles above the Earth's surface, geostationary weather satellites continuously monitor the Earth's dynamic atmosphere. Special satellite sensors measure infrared energy (heat energy) radiated by the Earth, showing the temperature of the tops of clouds and land & water surfaces visible between clouds. Among other advantages, infrared weather satellite imagery (a.k.a., I.R. imagery) is available day and night.

    Explore the world through "heat-sensitive eyes" (similar to looking through night-vision binoculars) by visiting the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Interactive Infrared Weather Satellite Image. You will need a Java-capable Web browser; be patient--the Applet takes a while to load! As you move the computer cursor over the image, note that the temperature (in Celsius degrees) and geographic location (latitude & longitude) are displayed for the point on the Earth (or above the Earth, in the case of clouds) below the cursor. Cool, huh? No, it's hot (remember, I.R. sensors detect heat energy).

    Suggested Teaching StrategiesTeacher Tips: Weather satellite image interpretation is challenging and fun, and provides a variety of opportunities to deliver authentic instruction:

    • Practice working with decimal fractions and positive & negative numbers. [Note: the higher the negative number, the lower (colder) the temperature.]
    • Temperature scale conversions, e.g., °C-to-°F (and vice versa).
    • Practice using geographic coordinates (latitude & longitude) to determine location (Theme 1 of the National Council for Geographic Education Five Themes of Geography).

    Challenge students to use an I.R. weather satellite image to demonstrate the following understandings and/or competencies (ranked in degree of difficulty, beginning with the easiest task):

    • Given the latitude & longitude of Washington, D.C. (39°N, 77°W), find its location on the satellite image.
    • Record the current temperature (either land or cloud top) in the vicinity of Washington, D.C. Convert the temperature from Celsius degrees to Fahrenheit. [Visit the Sterling, VA NWS Forecast Office Web site for an interactive Weather Calculator.]
    • Infer the relationship between color (black, white, and shades of gray) and temperature, as shown on I.R. weather satellite imagery.
    • Identify land and water surfaces; identify clouds (including high and low clouds).
    • Compare land and water temperatures at the same latitude; explain possible causes for the observed temperature difference (if any). Compare surface temperatures at different latitudes; in general, what is the relationship between surface temperature and latitude? Use geographic coordinates to identify the locations used for comparison.
    • Infer the location of the most intense storms by locating areas with the coldest cloud top temperatures. Access other online sources of real-time weather observations which verify your inferences.
    • Locate major ocean currents, e.g., the Gulf Stream (requires a relatively cloud-free view of the ocean).

    For more information regarding weather satellite image interpretation, visit the UIUC Weather World 2010 Satellite Meteorology Online Remote Sensing Guide.

22 January 2001 - Man-Made Shooting Stars: Tracking Satellites

Space TelescopeBe they faint streaks or brilliant flares, satellite observing is like watching man-made "shooting stars!" Track the International Space Station (ISS) in real-time. This NASA Web site makes it easy to locate some of the larger man-made objects in space, including the ISS, Space Shuttle (when in orbit), Mir, or Hubble Space Telescope. Or use J-Pass to calculate the next visible pass of these man-made satellites (your Web browser must support Java applets).

15 January 2001 - Interactive Solar System Scale Model

    Make a scale model of the Solar System and learn the REAL definition of "space" by visiting the Exploratorium Build a Solar System Web page. Set the scale of the model by selecting the size of the Sun; the model size of the planets and their distance from the Sun is calculated automatically.

    Suggested Teaching StrategyTeacher Tip: Seeing is believing! Provide the opportunity for students to actually construct a physical scale model of the Solar System (based upon the Web page model calculations). For directions, refer to "To Do & Notice" (at the top of the Build a Solar System Web page).

08 January 2001 - Wind Chill

    One of the bigger winter weather hazards is Wind Chill, the apparent temperature which results from the combined effect of air temperature and wind speed. Did you know that exposed flesh will freeze at a wind chill of less than -25°F! See how low air temperatures and high wind speeds can combine to produce dangerously cold wind chill temperatures by visiting the Sterling, VA NWS Forecast Office Web site for either an interactive Weather Calculator (including a Wind Chill section) or a "printer-friendly" Wind Chill Chart.

25 December 2000 - Happy Holidays!!!

    WoW! takes a break for the holidays. WoW! will resume next year. Whoa, don't tell me you fell for that old joke! But seriously folks, WoW! will resume 08 January 2001. 'Til then, Happy Holidays!!!

18 December 2000 - Where in the World is Santa Claus?

    The Official NORAD Tracks Santa Claus Web Site. The Website has a variety of high-tech features and tackles numerous aspects of Santa Claus--including calculations of cookie and milk consumption; how he gets around the world so quickly; how he gets down the chimney, etc. On Christmas Eve, the page will track Santa using digital animation, satellite/cockpit images and audio reports from Cheyenne Mountain--NORAD's Operations Command Center. New images and reports will be posted every hour for a 24-hour period. The site is available in English, French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese. (Requires the Shockwave Flash multimedia plug-in for your Web browser.)

11 December 2000 - Solar System CyberSurfari

04 December 2000 - SolarMax "Hot Facts"

    Learn about the Sun by visiting SolarMax's "Hot Facts" Web page.

    Suggested Teaching StrategyTeacher Tip: Play "SolarMax Facts in Five - The Game of Solar Knowledge" (a variation of the classic 3M® trivia game). Divide the class into teams of four- to five students per team. Provide each team with hardcopy of the SolarMax's "Hot Facts" Web page; players have five minutes to become familiar with the fact sheet. Collect the fact sheets. Teams have five minutes to record as many solar facts as they can recall. Teams receive one point for each correct answer. After a pre-determined number of rounds, the team with the most points is the winner. Award prizes to the winning team, e.g., Atomic Fireballs® (get it?).

27 November 2000 - If you know what a conjunction is, ...

    ...grammatically speaking, then you know what a conjunction is, astronomically speaking. The dictionary defines a conjunction (ken-jungk-shen) as:
    1. the act of joining together or the state of being joined together.
    2. a word used to connect words, phrases, or sentences. And, but, or, and if are conjunctions.
    3. Astronomy, the apparent meeting of two or more planets or other heavenly bodies at the same celestial longitude.

    29 November 2000, a picturesque evening conjunction occurs as the planet Venus and the Waxing Crescent Moon appear to come together in the southwestern sky shortly after sunset. Twilight is usually a good time to go planet-watching, as the planets are the first objects--other than the Moon--to appear in the sky as daylight fades to darkness (or vice versa for the morning). The Moon appears slightly above Venus because its orbit is inclined approximately five (5) degrees with respect to the plane of the Earth's orbit around the Sun. (Graphic courtesy Sky & Telescope magazine.) Twilight, November 

    Suggested Teaching StrategyTeacher Tip: The planetary conjunction provides a great opportunity to deliver some timely, high-interest, cross-curricular instruction. We suggest you dust off your copy of the Disney video, Schoolhouse Rock!: Grammar Rock and show the old favorite, "Conjunction Junction." Once students know what a conjunction is (grammatically speaking), you can easily make the connection with an astronomical conjunction--a brief, effective grammar lesson and astronomy lesson rolled into one, and good preparation for the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) exams! Note: If you miss this late-November "teachable moment," then be aware that there are two other conjunctions in December (for details, refer to the SCSA Special Events Web page).

20 November 2000 - Mars Revealed!

    A virtual gallery of nearly 60,000 photos from the Mars Global Surveyor archive, covering a single Martian year (687 Earth days) from September 1997 through August 1999.

13 November 2000 - Winter Storm Preparedness Week

    Let it
Snow!Winter Storm Preparedness Week is November 12-18 in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and West Virginia. [19 DEC is the average date of the first inch of snowfall for Washington, D.C.] Visit the Weather Channel Project SafeSide Web site for a free collection of cross-curricular lesson plans and activities that teach students how to prepare for severe weather and natural hazards, including winter weather (as well as tornadoes, lightning, floods, extreme heat, hurricanes, and earthquakes). Designed for grades 4-12.

    Suggested Teaching StrategiesTeacher Tips: Snowflakes - A Thematic Approach provides K-12 teachers with a flurry of ideas for using snow to deliver interesting and exciting interdisciplinary instruction perfect for the winter season. For example, Computer-Aided Design (CAD) of snowflakes using Snowflake Designer (requires Shockwave Player multimedia plug-in for your Web browser):

    1. Design virtual snowflakes before actually cutting folded paper. This is so cool!
    2. Challenge students to duplicate a specific snowflake pattern, e.g., Wilson Bentley's snowflake photomicrographs. Test patterns using Snowflake Designer.

06 November 2000 - Visible Earth

30 October 2000 - SCSA "State of Sky" Kiosk

    The Sandburg Center for Sky Awareness recently rolled out the prototype for the State of Sky Kiosk--an online automated "slideshow" presenting a series of sky-related Web pages, featuring the current sky (day & night) as well as some of the sky's greatest hits. In a little more than 10 minutes, the kiosk provides a fairly comprehensive picture of, well, the current state of the sky. For some "slides," the content is "randomized," meaning that a slightly different Web page will appear during subsequent cycles through the slideshow. Just point your Web browser to the kiosk "splash" page, sit back, and enjoy!

23 October 2000 - Solar Maximum

16 October 2000 - Teacher Tuesdays

    Teacher Tuesdays is a series of astronomy-related professional development programs hosted by The Challenger Learning Center of Greater Washington which "focus on informative and entertaining ways to engage students in science, math and technology. Guest speakers, representing various science professions, will present programs that assist teachers in inspiring their students to explore, to question, and to learn." The next program is on Tuesday (of course!), 24 October 2000. Additional information, including the entire schedule of events for 2000-2001, is available online. [Note that Waynewood ES will host the 24 April 2001 meeting; teachers at schools in the Sandburg Planetarium Service Area should plan to attend!]

09 October 2000 - Powers of Ten

02 October 2000 - Cricket Chirp Converter

    Click here to hear cricket 
chirping...Did you know that the rate at which crickets chirp is loosely correlated with air temperature? See for yourself by counting the number of cricket chirps in 15 seconds, then enter that number in the Cricket Chirp Converter, and voila--your very own "cricket thermometer!" For example, click on the cricket to hear it chirp--in slightly less than 15 seconds, it chirps 23 times, which converts to an air temperature of 63°F (17.2°C).

    Compare the chirping rate of outdoor versus indoor crickets (as overnight low temperatures tumble, notice that more of 'em are seeking shelter indoors!). Verify the accuracy of the cricket thermometer by using an actual thermometer (caution: use only alcohol thermometers with children!) to observe the air temperature (outdoor and indoor). Have fun!

    Suggested Teaching StrategiesTeacher Tips: A couple of suggested insect- and cricket-related activities in which students make observations and create scientific illustrations based upon their observations: Cricket Diagrams; and Cricket Life Cycle [activities courtesy Joanne Goodwin, School-Based Technology Specialist (SBTS), Churchill Road ES, Fairfax County, VA].

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