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.
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.
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
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…