As an older person in the CosmoQuest community I like to fly under the radar. To me, blogging is something that younger people do—but, maybe not. As I waited excitedly for Curiosity to land on Mars I thought back to when I was a kid and Sputnik was launched, initiating the beginning of the space race. My friends and I would always be on the lookout for news about space and, although, space exploration is now taken for granted by many, kids still love Space.
When my granddaughter was barely two she looked up at the crescent moon and said in a very concerned voice, “Oh no Yamma, the moon’s broken.” Of course, the teacher in me couldn’t resist the teachable moment. So, as my son rolled his eyes and reminded me that she was only two, I attempted my best elementary explanation of the phases of the moon. And guess what, it has been a year and she can still remember that the moon looks different during the month and name some phases. Sorry, a Yamma does have to brag a bit. Lunar child’s latest observation is that the sun chases away the moon in the morning. Another teachable moment!
Indeed, kids love astronomy — so our job is to nurture and encourage that interest so that they grow into citizen scientists. They can actually begin contributing while they are in school. If I learned anything after 25 years in the classroom, it was never to underestimate your students.
Recently, as a retired classroom science teacher working on educational materials for teachers, I have been perusing the drafts of the Next Generation Science Standards, looking for astronomy standards. It is still in draft form, but there are not as many as I would like to see and there seems to be a gap between elementary and high school. Since I spent my career mostly in Middle School, I have a special interest in that level. I was disappointed that there does not seem to be much Astronomy targeted for those grade levels. However, I am convinced that we can provide materials to teachers so they can integrate space science into their instruction at all levels and still meet the standards.
But right now, Science Yamma needs to Skype with Lunar child and read about The Cat In the Hat going into space with Thing one and Thing Two. I had no idea. I wonder if NASA knows:
A ship in the sky,
With Thing One and Thing Two,
Is headed to Mars,
Oh, what to do!
What to do!!