Friday, September 5, 2014

Three Weeks Down, Sort of

Last weekend was Labor Day weekend, which means, after just two weeks of school we got a three day weekend! Great! It also means that we returned Tuesday and had a short (four day) week. Again, great! But that means this wasn't quite a full week of school. But I'll take it.

Last post I mentioned a stargaze. Well, the clouds and storms did not cooperate and we have had rain pretty much every evening, so the stargaze had to be cancelled. I was disappointed. Now the Moon is waxing gibbous, so even if the sky cleared, we would not have a star gaze because the moon is too bright. Yes, when the moon is gibbous, it is so bright that the fainter objects in the sky are difficult to see, so I don't fight it. I wait until 3 days or so after full moon at the earliest to plan a stargaze.

The students are starting to get in the groove, in the routine of school. And I must say, again, that I am impressed with them. They are great kids. In astronomy we have started learning the constellations visible from Sarasota, a year long process. After they put that much time and effort into it, it is neat to see how much they can retain years later.

Speaking (writing) about years later, I have enjoyed keeping tabs of former students through facebook. A few of my students say that facebook has been taken over by old people, and I'm OK with that, since... Several former students are in various stages of parenthood: just announced pregnancy, nearing the end of pregnancy, just given birth, have a toddler, you name it. When I graduated from high school and college, sharing that kind of information with people was difficult, unless you had mailing addresses and took the time to send an announcement. Congratulations to all of them. It is fun to see. Keep posting those pics.

I have been trying to keep track and I can't believe how many times I used superlative phrases in Astronomy. Things like, incredible, amazing, ridiculously large, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping. I think the kids may get tired of it, but I NEVER cease to be amazed at the scale of the universe, the size of our solar system and the like, and I have taught this stuff for years.

On a more somber note, this week I found myself walking around campus feeling a little depressed. Well, not depressed really, just becoming aware of the fact that the young students and others that I did not know or recognize, would never have a chance to be in my class. That I would never have a chance to teach them. That realization just struck me. I knew in my head that that was the case, but seeing them brought it home. I don't want to seem a downer, because I really am having a good year, but this is part of the process, I guess.

This post is mostly random thoughts, but the underlying theme for the year remains. This, the final year of my teaching career, is going to be a good one, maybe even great, and is off to a great start.

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