Inside the International Space Station

To go up into space and live for a period of time is the dream of many children, but one that is reached by few adults. It takes a peak of physical health, a high level of intelligence, and a great deal of training. There are also a great deal of people who meet these […]

life-on-the-international-space-station_52af966d06edaTo go up into space and live for a period of time is the dream of many children, but one that is reached by few adults. It takes a peak of physical health, a high level of intelligence, and a great deal of training. There are also a great deal of people who meet these criteria, and so they then must go through a stringent weeding out process, following by intense training.

Once one reaches the space station, it is a tight fit with little human contact. Thanks to modern technology, the astronauts are able to communicate with their colleagues, and maybe even family back on Earth. But even modern technology cannot give these astronauts a gourmet meal, a luxurious bed, or an overly pleasant experience. These men and women are there to work, and work during the majority of their waking hours.

But the space program does now have an education program for grade schools. It allows schools to submit experiments to be performed in space, which the astronauts will record and discuss in a short segment. Do your students have any experiments they want to happen in space?

Blog: http://visual.ly/life-international-space-station

Why I’m Speaking to Science Teachers

Yesterday, Tim Holt wrote “Why I am At a Science Conference,” describing his work at this week’s Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST), and why it is so important that we edubloggers and techspeakers should be sharing our messages into other communities of interest, science teachers for instance. I agree. I’ve tried, for years, to get into social studies conferences. When I succeed, it’s to do a concurrent session, and only 12 teachers showed up. It’s part of the nature of the profession, that we owe our professional identity to our particular area of specialty.

I have keynoted foreign language conferences, library conferences, administrator, and even book publisher, real-estate developer and farmer conferences. Perhaps the most receptive to my particular message are school boards conferences. But Tim is right. Little of this actually makes it into classrooms, especially the “Common Core” classrooms.

Part of my Kerbal Space Program Diary
One of my early attempts into orbit, achieving a spectacular fall after a 35 meter ascent.
At about 26 Kilometers, my Kerban pilot decided to do a space walk. Alas he locked his keys in the capsule and burned up during the descent.
These three Kerbans made it into an orbit whose apogee was around 1.4 million kilometers and perigee was somebody’s basement on the far side of Kerbal.

Holt referred to the fact that I too will also be speaking to Science teachers this week, in Charlotte, at one of the regional conferences of the National Science Teachers Association – and my efforts to tailor my presentation to that audience. I admit some concern about speaking to science teachers, because I taught social studies, and my examples tend to be more social studies oriented – though I would maintain that any good social studies teacher is also teaching science, math, health, literature, and everything else. It’s all societal.

Tim mentioned me because of a string of posts I made to Facebook and Twitter yesterday, reporting my progress in playing with Kerbal Space Program, a sandbox-style game that has the player designing, building, and flying space craft, on missions from the planet Kerbal. It’s been fun, regardless of my immigrant clumsiness with video games – though I am experiencing some pride in finally getting a manned (well a Kerban-piloted) space craft into orbit. It cost the lives of 12 fellow kerbans and several billion $kerbols worth of hardware. 😉

Holt writes,

And although (David’s) message is VERY general, it is at least a start. He is trying to tailor the message to the audience by demoing the Kerbal Space Program online game (https://kerbalspaceprogram.com) so good for him. But those opportunities are few and far between.

These opportunities rare and priceless. ..and forgive me if I seem overly sensitive and even defensive, but there is nothing general about this. The message is singular and it is revolutionary. It has nothing to do with, “Look, here’s something that you can do in your classroom with technology.” It is,

Look, here’s what many of your students are doing outside your classroom. It’s fun, but it’s work. It’s hard work. And it is entirely about learning. The energy of our students’ youth culture is not based on how high you can jump or fast you can run. It is neither wit nor the appealing symmetry of your face. The energy of their culture is the ability to skillfully and resourcefully learn and to inventively employ that learning.”

My message is that children are entering our classrooms with learning skills that, although based on long understood pedagogies, they are skills that we are too often ignoring and sometimes even handicapping. When I say that we “chop their tentacles off,” it’s not about cutting them off from technology. We’re amputating their access to the learning skills that they are so effectively developing outside our classrooms – their avenues to personally meaningful accomplishment.

Perhaps those of us who have chosen to pursue education technology or have been seduced by its potentials are in a unique position to notice our children’s ’native’ learning skills – more so than science or social studies teachers. But we all must be careful to shed the glow of tech, and get right down to the point of being educated in this time of rapid change.

It’s not about being taught.

It’s about becoming a learner.

 

Five Ways to Clean Up Space Junk

As you and your students may be able to imagine, our planet is filled with trash. Most of what we consume today is considered not to be used more than a few times, and so we throw it in a trash can and then put it on the street for the trash men to take […]

5 Ways to Clean Up Space Junk | Visual.lyAs you and your students may be able to imagine, our planet is filled with trash. Most of what we consume today is considered not to be used more than a few times, and so we throw it in a trash can and then put it on the street for the trash men to take it far away from us. Unfortunately, this is not the whole truth, it ends up in our quickly filling land fills.

But we do not only occupy this planet. For the past fifty or so years we, or things we have made, have also occupied outer space. Some of these items have been brought back, others have been destroyed reentering our atmosphere. But many are still floating in outer space. And even the tiniest object can cause major damage. Have you students imagine sand being thrown at them. Then imagine it being thrown at you at around 17,000 mph, the average speed of a space craft in low orbit. It can cause a lot of damage to you, or to a space craft.

This infographic goes through various methods being explored and tested to help clean up this debris. From giant fish nets to lasers, there are a variety of ways being explored to make space safe for continued exploration. Have you students discuss the merits of each method, and be able to defend what they think is the best method.

Blog: http://visual.ly/5-ways-clean-space-junk

The Solar System: Our Home in Space

Narrated by a gentleman who sounds much like Robin Leach, former host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, this short video is the subject of our IGaD today. In fact, our solar system is home of many rich and famous individuals, just as it is home to those of us who are less rich […]

Narrated by a gentleman who sounds much like Robin Leach, former host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, this short video is the subject of our IGaD today. In fact, our solar system is home of many rich and famous individuals, just as it is home to those of us who are less rich and famous. What a great commonality between us and those we look up to.

Aside from this interesting fact that I shared, this infographic does cover more important facts about other planets, moons, and other masses that orbit the Sun with us. It compares various planets in such a way that puts things into perspective. It compares other planets to Earth, including mass and asteroids. And it finally ends on a pleasant note, sharing the demise of Earth in many, many years.

Begin, or end, your study of the Solar System with this short video, to give students a short overview of what can be expected. And don’t forget to read this post in the voice of the narrator, the way in which I wrote it.

Blog: http://visual.ly/solar-system-our-home-space

Fermi at Five Years

Fermi is a space observatory launched by NASA in June 2008 that has been used since then to observe happenings in all reaches of space. It is loaded with instruments, most importantly a telescope and a Gamma-ray Burst Monitor and with these instruments NASA has been able to make many discoveries over the past five […]

Fermi at Five Years

Fermi is a space observatory launched by NASA in June 2008 that has been used since then to observe happenings in all reaches of space. It is loaded with instruments, most importantly a telescope and a Gamma-ray Burst Monitor and with these instruments NASA has been able to make many discoveries over the past five years. This video outlines several of these discoveries that have taken place at varying distances from Earth.

Embed This Video

Latest SpaceX Grasshopper Test

Here we see the latest test by the people at SpaceX on their re-usable rocket, Grasshopper. The cancellation of the Space Shuttle program was certainly sad, but it is encouraging to see companies like SpaceX essentially picking up where NASA left off. I’m envisioning these test videos being played in the SpaceX museum 20 years […]

Latest SpaceX Grasshopper Test

Here we see the latest test by the people at SpaceX on their re-usable rocket, Grasshopper. The cancellation of the Space Shuttle program was certainly sad, but it is encouraging to see companies like SpaceX essentially picking up where NASA left off. I’m envisioning these test videos being played in the SpaceX museum 20 years from now, how about you?

Embed This Video

Expedition 35 arriving from space

  I was surprised to learn yesterday that Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and his crew had arrived back on Earth from the ISS, I hadn’t realized Expedition 35 was coming back so soon.  You may remember a couple videos I posted before from Chris Hadfield. Pretty much everything he’s put out is worth watching as […]

 

Expedition 35 arriving from spaceI was surprised to learn yesterday that Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and his crew had arrived back on Earth from the ISS, I hadn’t realized Expedition 35 was coming back so soon.  You may remember a couple videos I posted before from Chris Hadfield. Pretty much everything he’s put out is worth watching as he’s really in to interacting with us earthlings.

Additionally there is a video of the actual extraction of the astronauts if you’re interested in seeing a bunch of disoriented men sit in giant baby seats.

Embed This Video

Meteor footage over Japan

Here’s a short clip of a meteor flying in over Japan and then exploding in the atmosphere. It’s good to know someone’s at least keeping an eye on all this stuff flying around in space.

Meteor footage over JapanHere’s a short clip of a meteor flying in over Japan and then exploding in the atmosphere. It’s good to know someone’s at least keeping an eye on all this stuff flying around in space.

How Far is it to Mars?

With all of this hype about Mars and the exploration of Mars, there have been many infographics about Mars and space exploration. I have found yet another that is very interesting. Using pixels, this infographic shows how far away Mars is. However, it is not as far away as it used to be. Most people […]

With all of this hype about Mars and the exploration of Mars, there have been many infographics about Mars and space exploration. I have found yet another that is very interesting. Using pixels, this infographic shows how far away Mars is. However, it is not as far away as it used to be.

Most people who remember SPUTNIK and America’s landing on the moon are retiring, so in order to get a first hand experience, most teachers will have to speak with parents or grandparents. But the goal is to get first hand memories of this momentous event that can be related to your students today. For instance, what was someone doing when they found out about these momentous events, what were their thoughts? What did children play with and what were children excited about?

Then have your students imagine what it would be like to walk on Mars. Write a news article about the first Mars landing, or a diary entry as though they were the first person to walk on Mars. Have students discuss what landing on Mars would mean, and what they think will be the next goal after we do land on Mars.

Infographic: http://www.distancetomars.com

Tardigrades.. from space?

If there exists a species on this planet that did not originate here, and that species is one we have already discovered, it is likely the Tardigrade. Though they are just barely microscopic, they seem to share many characteristics with humans. This particular scientist discovered that these guys seem to be spread evenly across the […]

Tardigrades.. from space?If there exists a species on this planet that did not originate here, and that species is one we have already discovered, it is likely the Tardigrade. Though they are just barely microscopic, they seem to share many characteristics with humans. This particular scientist discovered that these guys seem to be spread evenly across the Earth. Most importantly, however, it is the only known Earth-dwelling creature to be able to survive in the extreme conditions of space.

Have we been co-existing with an alien life-form we didn’t even realize was there? Maybe it’ll only take a little bit more prying to find out.