The classroom visit went very well. I spoke for a few minutes (I kept it short because we had a nice, sunny day to do our solar observing in) on Fremont Peak, the Fremont Peak Observatory Association, scientific notation, and the evolution of our sun. I skipped over a lot of the material I had, because it was ‘backup’ in case it was a cloudy day. The most ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ I got were when I described the density of white dwarf material and neutron star material.
Then we went outside and looked. The kids came out in small groups of four or five, and we were able to use both telescopes. My daugher Hannah helped out with traffic control. The TeleVue had the larger image, and the small sunspot region on the western limb of the sun was clearly visible.
The most fun for me was the Q&A period. Did I mention that this was a GATE (Gifted And Talented Education) classroom? These kids are sharp! Try answering questions from 33 10- and 11-year olds who are probably smarter than you are.
Some typical questions: How long do really big stars last? Will our sun ever explode in a supernova? Will the red giant stage affect the weather on earth? How long would it take to get to Mars? (one I was really impressed by was a followup to that last one: How long would it take for the *astronauts*? )
The teacher signed the observation log with the following:
“Mr. Hudson presented information on the life cycle of the star and scientific notation to 33 5th graders. He then took small groups outside to view the sun through the solar telescopes.
The students were very interested and engaged. We all appreciated his time and expertise very much.”
It was a great time, and if you are an amateur astronomer, I highly recommend offering your expertise to your local school. I’m thinking ahead to my next visit already.
(Edit: Cuz I kant splell verry gud)