Journey Through the Universe 2017 Greatest Hits!
On Wednesday, October 19th, Gemini held a workshop called “Journey Through the Universe 2017 Greatest Hits!” Five observatory STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) professionals with great K-12 classroom presentations demonstrated the activities they present to students during the week of Journey Through the Universe classroom visits in Hawai‘i.
The Zipline Ping Pong Ball Challenge
Gemini North Software Engineer Angelic Ebbers demonstrated an activity to spark students’ thinking about engineers and how they solve many types of problems. Angelic then split the audience into groups and gave each a set of materials and set up a small zipline. The group’s task was to design and build a mechanism that could carry a ping-pong ball from the top of a zipline to the bottom in four seconds. Some groups used all of their materials, including (but not limited to): paper cups, tongue depressors, rubber bands, washers, and pipe cleaners, while other groups produced minimalist designs, using as few materials as possible. By changing materials, and conditions, groups went through the engineering process by building, testing, and rebuilding their designs.
Working with Young Minds
Sherry Yeh, a Subaru Telescope astronomer shared tips and approaches on presenting astronomy to young (preschool and kindergarten) students. Sherry revealed her mantra, “less is more!” If the students walk away remembering one concept, such as “the Earth moves around the Sun,” then you have accomplished your goal. She also demonstrated ways to keep young students’ interest by singing songs and using kinesthetic activities.
Computer Science without Computers
Gemini Information Systems Engineer Jerry Brower demonstrated how to teach computer science without computers. His activities included topics like counting in binary, bubble sorting, how computers send and receive data, and how the internet keeps your data safe (or not). All of his activities transformed otherwise abstract computer science concepts into concrete, digestible, and interactive fun.
3-D Star Constellations
Gemini astronomer André-Nicholas Chené walked the group through the trials and errors he faced while creating 3-D models of recognizable constellations. While many students know how the stars look when they all appear on the same plane, like in the sky from Earth, but by making their own 3-dimensional models, showing distance, students can better appreciate depth in space. André-Nicolas also included how we modified existing instructions to make this activity easier and effective in a shorter period of time.
Light is All Around Us
Finally, Subaru Telescope Outreach Specialist Yuko Kakazu revealed how she presents the concept of light to younger students. Using models and props, she demonstrated the properties of light, different wavelengths/colors, light sources, and the how we have day and night due to the Earth’s rotation.