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Mar 17

When discussions lead to an unexpected understanding

The other day, we were discussing the movement of the sun-Earth-moon system. As we were reviewing the ways the Earth and moon move as part of the system, I mentioned that the sun rotates. Evidently, this was a new concept for some of my students. From there, and I cannot even remember how, our discussion moved to the size of the solar system, galaxy, and universe.

Most of my students had no idea of the scale of the universe. We looked at a photograph from the Hubble Ultra Deep field and talked about how it was from a small section of the visible sky. We discussed the number of stars in our own galaxy and how many galaxies there could be in the universe. By the end of our unplanned discussion, students realized how tiny the Earth is in the grand scope of things. One student even mentioned that by seeing the size of the universe, she now sees how unlikely it is we are the only planet with life.

I love those days when a discussion takes an unexpected course. It’s exciting to share information with students and watch them draw their own conclusions and come to understandings. Plus, the universe really is amazing!

Hubble Ultra Deep Field from hubblesite.org

Hubble Ultra Deep Field from hubblesite.org

1 comment

  1. dearteamkennedy

    Janelle,
    Check out these scale website to help put things in further perspective.
    http://htwins.net/scale2/
    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20120321-how-big-is-space
    Think I may have gotten these from Neil.
    Jennifer

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