3-2-1. Blast-off! At a recent, “Zoom to the Moon” program, I had the privilege to teach children about our amazing universe. The first-grade students had an astronomical time making craters. We became crater makers!
Another highlight of the class was imagining what could have led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. As we experimented by dropping objects from varying heights, we wondered, “Could an asteroid crashing to earth been the event that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs?”
Of course, you can’t discuss the moon without talking about eclipses. Using a flashlight, globe and tennis ball, we acted out a solar and lunar eclipses. The students then had the opportunity to demonstrate the ordinary cycles of the earth spinning to make a day, the moon orbiting earth to make a month and the earth orbiting the sun to make a year. For some students, the idea of orbiting was a new concept. As they realized they were standing on a moving planet, they exclaimed, “Wow, we are actually spinning right now! Why aren’t we dizzy?” I love when students’ curiosity is sparked and they make connections.
Our final experiment involved touching a “cloud.” As we discussed how clouds can block the moon’s light, the students got to touch the vapor produced from a cloud maker. They were surprised that the cloud felt less like cotton and more like cool, wet air. How often do you get to touch a cloud in school!?! The children were thrilled to go home and tell their families they had touched a real cloud.
One of the best parts about being a scientist is watching students’ excitement as they learn new facts about our universe. When students make comments like, “I never knew science was so much fun. This is the best day ever. I never want this class to end,” I know that I have accomplished my goal.
The first time I step into a classroom, the kids see as simply a woman wearing a funny, white coat. By the time class is over, I am Asteroid Amber, the scientist. With smiling faces, the students give me hugs, high-fives and ask me to come back soon. Why? Because when science is fun, students learn. And, they wonder where the next adventure will take them.