Thursday, January 05, 2006

Thunder is a Rich Source of Loudness

One of the things I'm trying to do is to develop a teacher's guide for Orbiter, because I believe that as a dynamic, graphical solar system simulator, Orbiter can really enrich lessons in science for a variety of topics (the appearance and motion of planets, sunrise/sunset, eclipses), in addition to its more obvious role as a space flight simulator that demonstrates forces and motion, rotation vs. translation, the effects of gravity, and the various technologies and applications of space flight. So far I've written a presentation [PDF] that gives a visual tour of Orbiter, suggests an interesting demo, and includes some notes for teachers.

I plan to do more, and I also plan to try out some of this as a guest teacher for a space lesson or two in a sixth grade class sometime in the spring. I figure I should try to get some experience with actual kids - what a concept! And for background, I found this Political Calculations blog post on what your kids know about science. These are quotes from actual school work of 5th and 6th graders and they are hilarious (the title of this post is also one of them). My favorite space science reference points are these:
When people run around and around in circles we say they are crazy. When planets do it we say they are orbiting.
While the earth seems to be knowingly keeping its distance from the sun, it is really only centrificating.
And finally this one, which is really hard to argue with:
The law of gravity says no fair jumping up without coming back down.

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