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Summer SAVY, Session 4 Day 4, Space Academy (Whiting) (3rd – 4th)

Posted by on Thursday, July 11, 2024 in blog, SAVY.

Our exploration of the solar system is coming to a close today, as we visit the remaining planets. Unfortunately, we experienced some serious bumps along the way.  


In a problem-based learning (PBL) scenario, we discovered that the navigation system in our spaceship broke down between Jupiter and Saturn. We have minimal tools on our shuttle: an old book of star charts, a telescope, a spectrometer, and a sextant. Cadets used problem-solving skills to generate many ways to use the tools and get back on track. Eventually, cadets were given new information: the reset button. An inaccessible red button the ship will reset all systems… if cadets can get to it. Using our learning about microgravity, cadets generated possible viable solutions. In all of this problem-solving, we discussed the reality of “best” solutions. We agreed that the best is relative, and we may all have different ideas. It’s important to be more specific than best when working in a group. We developed different criteria, like cost-effective, efficient, and simplest, to describe solutions and come to a consensus on how to solve these problems using the tools we have.  


With the spaceship back in order, we explored Saturn. Saturn is the least dense planet in our solar system, so we did a quick density experiment to better understand this property! We also visited Uranus and Neptune, learning about their key planet facts and further exploring microgravity and the structure of the solar system. Finally, we watched an incredible demonstration of a live-scale model of the solar system. We practiced scaling with rulers and marbles and watched as experts measured the scaled distance between planets and conceptualized how big the solar system actually is! Did you know that in a scaled model of the solar system in which Earth is the size of a marble the whole model would be seven miles across? Cadets really began to visualize the distance between planets and the sun! 


Finally, we visited Pluto for some serious planetary debate. We reviewed the criteria for classification as a planet, explored some Pluto facts, and wrote a legal argument using the format DRAAW + C. Cadets acted as lawyers to take their legal writing to court and presented their cases in an Intergalactic Court of Law. This would be a great dinner conversation tonight; can your Intergalactic Lawyer convince you of their position? Our cadets-turned-lawyers have some hilarious, dramatic, and scientific positions to present! 


Tomorrow, we’ll wrap up our week with the Space Exposition and more Mars exploration! 

Leaving the spacewalk for now! Until next time…  

Ms. Whiting