SAVY 2019: Session 6, Day 1 – Stellar Astronomy (Rising 5th/6th)
We had a mind blowing day in astronomy today! The students are so excited to learn and ask all of their questions about astronomy!
We started out the day with introductions of each other – it’s great to learn what people have in common and to learn about something new and to practice speaking as all scientists have to be able to communicate their work verbally and in writing. We also designed our Classroom Expectations – I was impressed with the thoughtfulness of many of the students regarding what makes a great classroom.
Perhaps the most mind-blowing topic of today was scientific notation
! As the numbers in astronomy are generally huge, we have to use a different way to write them or it’s just too cumbersome. For instance, the Sun’s mass is 2 nonillion kilograms. We practiced and did a little bit of arithmetic with the exponents. During our discussion, students were very interested in terms I used like “light years
” (and thinking about light travel time
) and the size of our galaxy – 100,000 light year diameter, wait, it’s 200,000 light years in diameter! See this press release
from the Institute for Astrophysics in the Canary Islands!! Science is awesome!
During the middle of the day, students got to see one of the most important diagrams in all of astronomy – the Hertzprung-Russell
diagram. We discussed things they recognized and things they found interesting and it’s a great springboard for more discussion.
At the end of our day, we were all about basic stellar evolution where I showed images of various stages of star lifetimes. These pictures, as I had hoped, really got students thinking and asking questions!
Now that we know about all of these things, we can really start looking at and understanding stellar data and graphs! Tomorrow we look at gravity, orbits, and stellar evolution!