Saturday, September 27, 2014

An Average Week - How Boring - NOT!

The sixth week of school just ended. All schedule changes have been made and the routine of school has settled in. Students know where to sit and what is expected of them when they come into class. The 12 weeks that follow Labor Day are the single longest, continuous stretch of uninterrupted school days in the entire year. (OK, technically the kids have October 24th off, but teachers have a professional day, so it is continuous for us.)

Now this is not a complaint. I actually like continuity in my classes. It gives me a chance to provide a real foundation in both my AP Computer Science and Astronomy classes. I find that with the many breaks and shortened weeks we have later this semester and into March, that students lose that continuity and that it is more difficult to retain the momentum of these early, continuous weeks. Granted, we all need a break every once in a while, but I for one see the worth of full weeks.

It may be because I am old, but the weeks seem to fly by. I have observed a rhythm to these full weeks.
Monday - No grousing here. I see Mondays as an opportunity to start a great week. In planning for each week, I get excited by the material I see we will cover. I can't wait to dig in.
Tuesday - If I have a let down, it is on Tuesdays. But I try to build on the momentum I started yesterday.
Wednesday - Wow, it is already hump day. More great things to teach.
Thursday - Every other Thursday, Astronomy class meets in Starlab. It is impossible to have a bad day in Starlab.
Friday - constellation quiz and APOD. Have a great weekend.

Now for a word from our sponsor. (TIC)  - There are so many great online resources for astronomy, but one that I have used for years now is the Astronomy Picture of the Day web site. It is hosted by NASA but run by volunteers. Each day they post an image that relates to astronomy (sometimes indirectly.) Under the photo is a paragraph written by a person knowledgeable about the image. There are hot links in the paragraph to additional information. A few images are whimsical but most are serious and positively grand. Occasionally they have video clips. It is a great resource and since they have been doing this continuously since 1996, there are over 6,500 images with commentary. A full college course could come from these, no doubt. If you have never been to that site, take a look.

Now for a secret. If you go to the APOD Archive site and select November 20, 2008 you will see a cool shot of the space shuttle Endeavour during a night time launch from the Kennedy Space Center with the rocket exhaust trail silhouetted by the rising full moon. Neat shot. Then look closely at the bottom portion of the image and you will see...wait for it... yours truly! I am bent over, looking through my camera taking a photo of the identical scene in this picture. I was not aware that the group behind me was taking images that would be posted on APOD and it wasn't until a student noticed it that I became aware of the picture at all.
The only thing better would be to have an image that I took be selected for APOD but this is in some ways cooler. How many people have their likeness (good side not withstanding) on an APOD image?

Thanks for reading this.

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