January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Спутник-1, Anniversary 53

Posted: Friday, October 1st, 2010

by Richard Shope

I was nearly six years old. Eisenhower was President.  Mickey Mantle was playing for the Yankees, Hank Aaron for the Braves, as Milwaukee trimmed New York for the World Series.  But the real World Series was playing out in the skies above.  The Soviets had pitched Sputnik into orbit on October 4, 1957, and for 92 nights, the world in the grandstands watched and listened as this silvery orb with its four comet-like sprays of antennae, beep, beepity, beeped around the world for all to hear on FM radio and for all to see in the twilight hours as it passed overhead.

I had started second grade that year in Mrs. Avery’s class at Belle Sherman school in Ithaca, New York.  My father was working on his veterinary degree at Cornell University.  We lived on the grounds of the veterinary college campus near the Baker house.  We had a large expanse of backyard sloping down a hill toward a woods with trees to climb and copperhead snakes to avoid.  October twilights were crisp and clear with a wide view of the sky.  I recall my Dad excitedly stirring us to look up at a shining pinpoint of light moving casually across our field of view.  It was better than the fleeting flash of a “shooting star.”  Moments later we were all abuzz chasing fireflies.  Little did we know how profoundly that silvery beeping satellite would transform the world.

Sputnik stirred up a hornet’s nest, pitting two great worldviews against each other in what was known as the space race.  Eisenhower and Congress formed NASA with the Space Act of 1958 and began to invest heavily in science education, launching the famous alphabet soup of innovative approaches to accelerate America’s pace.  Beneath the technical prowess was the naked fear that a nuclear warhead might be the next to be launched.  Belle Sherman had air-raid drills: We were corralled into the hallway, instructed to cover our heads with our jackets to keep our eyes from melting in the nuclear flash.  The Space Race was intensified by Kennedy’s State of the Union address on May 23, 1961, with a call to reach the moon and back by the end of the decade.  Vanguard, Explorer, Ranger, Mercury, Gemini, Apollo—America succeeded in winning the space race.  But then, there was a seeming pause.  Only seeming, because, in fact, we have had an ongoing series of successful launches of satellites looking back at Earth and spacecraft exploring the solar system and beyond.  We have established a human reach to the very edge of the heliosphere with the Voyager probes.  But it is the physical human presence that has paused in low-Earth orbit, with our noses nudging just above the exosphere, like ancient lobe fish wondering whether to evolve to the next level.

Tracings of Sputnik's orbital path.

Perhaps humanity balked, Kierkegaard-like, in fear and trembling upon peering into the abyss of space and at what Buzz Aldrin calls the “magnificent desolation” of the moon.  The technical chasm between here and Mars and the asteroids and worlds beyond is enough to give any space enthusiast pause.  But it is the emotional temerity that has stopped us cold.  So the question for us as satellite educators, fascinated as we are with the wonder, the technology, the science, the adventure, is how we can become catalysts to energize the next generation to boldly go forth, to step into the theater of satellite action.

Sputnik model

Sputnik model

Here’s my suggestion: For the next 92 days, from October 4, 2010 to January 4, 2011, celebrate DAILY the ushering-in of the era of satellites, with tidbits of information adding up to a collection of knowledge.  Start with Спутник-1, but keep going.  Invite your students to explore the Internet for the history of satellite achievement from then to now.  Sites with Sputnik information abound.  A simple search lets you reconnect to the thrill that lit up the twilight skies 53 years ago, and to remind ourselves that we are still on the threshhold to explore space.

Richard Shope is president of the Satellite Educators Association

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

STEM Conference Hosted by CMSESMC

Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.

Teachers, administrators, and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information, and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching. Register online today!

Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Opportunity for High School Students – Los Angeles County

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Science Education Policy Update

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

NSTA Los Angeles Conference Features Many CA Science Leaders

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

The early-bird registration rates for the 65th NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Los Angeles is just days away (ends Feb. 3). And as the early-registration deadline approaches excitement is building for what is anticipated to be the largest gathering of science educators (both California and nationwide) – with attendance expected to reach 10,000 or more. If you have never had the pleasure of attending the NSTA National Conference, I recommend you visit their website with tips for newcomers that describe the various components of the event. A conference preview is also available for download. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.