Teaching about Space

YHorsehead Nebula es! I’m in my element now. The theme for Ashton’s class this term is “Space”. I’ve waited for this for ages, to be able to teach her about the wonders of the night sky. I think we’ll be doing a lot of browsing on APOD and spaceflight.nasa.gov.

My first idea is to go out on to the school oval across the road and build a scale model of our solar system using a 1cm marble as the Earth. I figure that we can at least get the Terrestrial planets and their orbits to scale to fit on the oval, but anything from Jupiter onwards will need to be imagined as “out near Beenyup Rd” and so on. To get all the planets on the oval, Jupiter is going to need to be the size of a grain of sand which is no fun. I want her to get a sense of the size of space. After all, Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space.

Then we’ll try and time things so we can see the ISS flying over during dusk. If we are extremely lucky, we might time it for when the current STS-127 is separating from the ISS so we can see not one but two tiny dots.