Marv performed an interactive exercise with the kids using roll of ribbon to show the size and extent of our solar system, starting with the Sun, then Mercury, then doubling the distances to each successive planet (and asteroid belt). No doubt that the great distances were mind-blowing to many of them.
Clouds and rain were prevalent on this day, with threat of lightning. So, we were assigned indoors to a classroom. The nice, long hallway previously used on such events was needed as a temporary cafeteria. The good news was, we had a large window in the classroom. In the distance, nothing but houses. Ugh. Fortunately, one was under construction, with roofers putting on a roof. That became my target for the day in the 8" SCT. I also had two easels with pictures of the sun, as well as my photos of the latest Venus and Mercury transits. All seemed surprised at how VERY tiny Mercury was, relative to the Sun.Steve B. brought along the club's PST, on his own mount. That was primarily eye-candy for today. The kids were shown how it works and the kind of image of the sun that it puts out. He presented various solar information regarding our nearest star on his laptop.
We entertained and instructed five 3rd and 4th grade classes between 9am and 11am. I believe the classes averaged 24 students per class. So, approximately 120 students served. All were informed of the Friday Night Open Houses at Broemmelsiek Park, and of the upcoming Partial Solar Eclipse event at Broemmelsiek Park on late afternoon Thursday, October 23, 2014. Start of that eclipse is 4:41pm and lasts until sunset at 6:11pm. Hopefully many of these kids will come out and see a show that MORE than makes up for the views of the sun that they missed today!
"Discovery Days" is an annual event at this school, with an emphasis on the sciences but also offering other types of discovery. Per the school's website:
"On Friday the week culminated with activities that included a visit from retired USAF Colonel J.P. Morgan whose brother was an original Tuskegee Airman. Other activities included solar scope viewing with the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri, and a Monsanto outreach program on sound and light. Boeing fighter jet pilots also shared with students what it was like to fly an F/A-18 Super Hornet built right here in St. Louis. Additional events included Dino Odell’s science songs and the St. Louis Science Center unisphere, a portable, inflatable mini-planetarium."
There was also a hands-on room for kids to learn and copy drawings of constellations. These to be followed by an evening viewing the stars at Broemmelsiek Park (FNOH), but rain and a sky full of clouds caused this to be cancelled.
The kiddos were very well behaved, and nearly all were able to see thru the telescope easily. It was fun to walk thru the hallways and see many colorful displays of our solar system, including planets, moons, and planetoids. I hope that next year we can enjoy a sunny day and provide a much more interesting lesson about our nearest star, in the sunshine.