TEACHER: Ms. Fox
PROGRAM: Shoot For The Stars
SCIENTIST: Meteor Martin
This week’s LIMELIGHT SCHOOL OF THE WEEK IS……Duke Memorial Weekday School, Durham, NC
Hello Scientists. I hope everyone has had a wonderful and Scientifically great week. The last few months have been soooo busy with all the new schools and lessons that have been going on here at High Touch High Tech of RDU and surrounding areas. I have met tons of new friends and some truly incredible teachers. One of these just so happens to be Duke Memorial Weekday School in Durham, NC.
While at Duke Memorial, I had the pleasure of working with some amazing Preschools who had the opportunity to learn about and explore outer space while we “Shoot for the Stars.” These children blew me away with their knowledge of what you can find in outer space and even that “Shooting stars are really Meteors” WOW! That was great.
These kids were fantastic little astronauts as we learned about stars, constellations and shooting starts. They took tuns, waited patiently as I distributed the materials and shared as well as any other class that I have worked with. Hats off to Mrs. Fox and the rest of the teachers. I can’t wait to have the chance to work with you all again
As a side note, one of the little boys was walking out of the room with who I found out to be his brother. I asked if they were twins and the little boy said, “Yes, but we don’t have the same birthday.” So, I leave you with that little tiny brain teaser and until next time, this is “Meteor” Martin Blasting off!!! 😊
Have you ever wondered why we have thumbs? Do you think only humans have thumbs? What if all animals had thumbs? Our thumbs are an example of an adaptation. Our hands evolved over time (much like our eyes and other distinct features) to serve a purpose critical to our survival as a species.
Our thumb is what makes our hands so useful and distinct. It is an opposable thumb, which means it can flex towards our other fingers, allowing us to hold and grasp objects. You can tell it is opposable because you can touch the tip of your thumb to each of your fingertips. Your cat may have five toes on each paw, but their “thumb” is not in opposition to the other toes meaning your cat can’t grab things like you can. Some cats, called polydactyl cats, have more than 5 toes on their paws!
We evolved to have this type of thumb so that we could pick up and hold tools. Tools were essential to our survival during our evolution because they helped us hunt, build, protect our families, etc. Our closest animal relative, the chimpanzee, also has opposable thumbs as well as most ape species. They are able to use rudimentary tools, peel bananas, efficiently climb, and build shelters all thanks to their thumbs!
It isn’t just monkey’s and apes that have opposable thumbs. Koalas, giant pandas, opossum, and frogs in the Phyllomedusa family are some more examples of animals with opposable thumbs. All these creatures have one thing in common: they all climb! Climbing was so important to their survival that the evolution of an opposable thumb was essential. Having thumbs helps them in a lot of ways. Imagine a panda grasping some bamboo, their main food, and you can see how the thumb benefits them. Opossums actually have thumbs only on their back feet specifically to help them climb super-fast. This is helpful for avoiding predators.
Can you imagine what your pets could do if they had thumbs? Instead of fetch, you could play catch with your dog because he would be able to catch and throw! I bet he could turn the doorknob and let himself out in the yard by himself too! Take a few minutes and imagine what life would be like if all our pets had thumbs! What about the opposite? Is there anything you would no longer be able to do without a thumb?
Molecule Mike – “Sounds Like Fun”
You can’t predict those purpose-affirming moments that often happen in classrooms. All it takes is one comment or thought-provoking question from a precocious student to remind you that making science fun and increasing science literacy is critical and impactful work.
During a recent in-school field trip for 2nd graders at Evergreen Charter School, a clever and brave student had a fantastic contribution to the program, “Sounds Like Fun”, that made my day and enhanced everyone’s experience. The parking lot was adjacent to the schools’ tree-level ropes course and every adult I spoke to let me know where fresh coffee could be found so I knew this would be a good day!
While breaking down sound as vibrations and how our ears translate vibrations into something our brains understand, I use a tuning fork as a visual/audible aid. A student raised his hand to share an experience he had using a tuning fork. It is always a gamble asking for a student to contribute a related anecdote; relevance is subjective. This young man told our whole group about how doctors had used a tuning fork touched to his forehead to help study his hearing and provide the best hearing device which he received the previous week. How cool! I told him, what a great example of vibrations and the tiny bones that help us hear.
Sometimes being different in school can be tough. I think the experience shared by this student took at least a bit of courage, yet he offered it to help explain an abstract concept to peers and ended up being the star of the day. I appreciated his story so much, I shared it with the next class and anyone else who asked how my day went.
High Touch High Tech programs are great for engaging students’ imaginations with hands-on activities but nothing I prepared could have provided the emotional connection to the material this student shared. Students trust what kids their ages say which makes this a story I’ll use every time I teach “Sounds Like Fun”. Something a 2nd grader taught me. How cool!