A Perfect Planet…The Formation Of The Earth Questions And Answers Planning School Assemblies to Meet State Standards

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Planning School Assemblies to Meet State Standards

I love National Public Radio! Listening to NPR on my way to the office in the morning I often hear about things that are interesting and I didn’t know about before.

This morning there is a piece on a new phenomenon in astronomy. Apparently, in 1979, a star was observed to explode into a Super Nova. But this is not an ordinary event. The explosion seemed so big that it might have created a black hole. And the evidence suggests that this hole, in the last thirty years, has consumed an amount of mass equal to our entire planet, which, as these things go, is a lot! And this seems to be the first time that astronomers have witnessed a black hole born in a normal Super Nova. It’s very nice!

And this made me think, of course, of school assemblies. Kids love this stuff. They love the stars, and astronomy. And aspects of astronomy and earth science are covered in state standards in most states. And yet there is always a connection between children’s natural curiosity about it, and the teaching of the subject at school.

Not long ago I was out on a Boy Scout outing with my son’s scout troop and we had a young scout with us from an inner-city neighborhood. That light, after all the young people had entered, but when the adults were still talking by a small fire, this young man got up to see what was happening. It was a clear night and by chance he looked up and was immediately shocked by the number and brightness of the stars that could be seen that night. Growing up in the city, he had no idea of ​​the number of stars that could be seen on a clear dark night outside the city lights. He stood there for 45 minutes just lost in wonder.

This is a great teachable moment and we use it to teach some of the better known constellations. It was a great moment!

But many young people never get that opportunity, and the context inside a classroom is often poorly connected leaving students struggling to find love.

However, they need to know about the universe because this area is directly specified in the educational standards of most states. Almost every state has sections in their state standards throughout elementary and middle school that relate directly to our solar system, astronomy and the stars.

A field trip to a planetarium is good for this. However, many schools are not near a permanent facility, and often the transportation costs associated with a field trip are prohibitive. This is where school assembly programs can be of great value to a school. Various companies provide schools with the alternative of hosting a visit from a traveling planetarium. In these cases the dome is usually inflatable and placed in the gymnasium for the day. Far from being a simple fun distraction, programs like this directly cater to educational standards, and do so in an engaging, child-friendly way that encourages excitement and a desire to learn more.

There are various options available in this area. In some cases the program is a simple rental of equipment where the school must provide a trained operator, usually a teacher who knows how to use the equipment. Sometimes the unit provides a taped narration that plays automatically once the program starts, like watching a movie. However, the best option is if the company sends a live professional presenter with the planetarium so that the presentation is lively, adaptable and fully polished, and can answer questions from students during the program.

There are also different capacity options. Inflatable planetariums come in different sizes, and this is important because it affects how many presentations are needed to get all of your students involved. Some units are small and only handle one class at a time. If you want to get your whole school involved, try to find a company that has a dome big enough to hold 80-100 students at a time. That way you can get an average school of 300-500 in just one day. Otherwise, you will undoubtedly be faced with hosting the program for several days which is not only expensive, but can disrupt a school’s schedule.

Finally, look for the latest technology. Older star projectors were analog and usually consisted of a film canister over a bulb. Although available at the time, such systems are outdated and can now be found in some toy stores. Newer digital systems provide better programming and have advanced computer generated graphics.

No matter where you go, your students will benefit, and their test scores should rise accordingly. And one day, if one of the students is riding in a car with an NPR addict Dad, and if they hear the same report that Dad heard this morning, the student might say that “Hey, Dad, put that back. That’s the stuff we heard at school” And that’s cool!

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