In connection with the 1st grade and 8th grade science units, this week the school was visited by Explora 360, an inflatable planetarium.
In first grade, we learned that good scientists observe the world around us, make predictions, and notice patterns. In order to put this into practice we launched the unit by becoming scientists ourselves! First grade students are grappling with the compelling question, “Is the sun really moving?”. What better way to dive into this inquiry than to observe this phenomenon in our very own planetarium? After this special visit, the students conducted their own “wonder wall” of lingering questions based on the planetarium exploration.
And as good scientists do, we will continue to explore this phenomenon deeply over the course of the upcoming weeks. 8th graders will soon be starting a unit on “Earth’s Place in Space”. The dynamic planetarium experience allowed 8th graders to see first-hand the scale of different objects in our solar system. It was very impressive to see the rocky planets shrink down to their true scaled size, while the gas giants grew and the sun exploded onto the ceiling above us!
The videos and images also gave students an introduction to the causes of some of the cyclic patterns that we see related to our place in space, such as the lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and the seasons.
The students had many questions after the visit to the planetarium about space exploration and the effects of time spent in space on our bodies. A few brave students have said that they would sign up for a mission to space some day!