Saturday, March 05, 2005

Astronomy Day 2005

It's a beautiful day on the Georgia Southern campus. The sun is shining and the breeze is blowing; it's about 74 degrees. Family Day festivities are being carried out on sweetheart circle. Couples are having picnics, pretty girls are laying out on their blankets and reading, everyone is enjoying this fresh breath of good weather. A block away at and around the Physics building, Mrs. Lowder is hosting the annual Astronomy Day and the kids are eating it up.

I was in charge of the paper rocket portion of the Astronomy Day activities from 12 to 3 o'clock. My sister helped to make these rockets, made of rolled up paper and tape. The children would then color their rockets and carry them to me where I would begin "launch stage one" by placing the paper rockets on the end of a tube opposite of a bottle that had been filled with my air. Once everything was in place, the children would stomp the bottle and let soar their rocket with words like "wind master" printed down the side in color crayon. I had no idea that such simple things could be so entertaining to children. Some would get incredibly anti-climatic running starts. Others would contemplate and stutter step for almost a minute before deciding how to make the best stomp. No matter what preparations they took, all rockets launched about the same. The wind held the most significant role in the process. Even after 8 launches of the same rolled up paper, the kids were ecstatic. They would launch, pick it up, and run back to me -a continuous circle. As my breath began to give way, I wondered where these parents were, and if they were secretly laughing at me. I decided to put a 20 turn cap in effect.

The finished rocket was of a most elementary design, yet some of the kids (whom we will dub "nerds") were acting as if NASA scouts were looking for new engineers. Such headaches we got from kids who had just learned the word "aerodynamics" in their grade school science class. Yeah, we're impressed Jimmy Neutron. One kid, who insisted on counting down from ten every time he launched, had my sister in a tizzy cutting flames and fins and cones to exact proportion.

5 Comments:

Blogger Ricardo Grande said...

Dude- that's awesome. I saw the family day stuff going on in Sweetheart Circle but I didn't know about the Astronomy Day thing. Did they have any observations going on? I have a telescope and I used it this weekend to check out Jupiter - it was awesome, I could see like four of its moons. I'd never seen that before. Space is cool!

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Beth said...

hey! i just wanted to let u knw that after reading ur john wayne entries.. it has really opened my eyes. i have come in contact with him twice (well, three times) in the past two days. and if u hadn't put him in ur journal thingy... i wouldve never paid much attention to him. but every time he sees me he waves and says hello and i wave and say hi back bc even tho he's different, he's really not. anyways! later!
beth

1:46 PM  
Blogger wes said...

ricardo - Space IS cool, did you know that there are actually 62 moons of Jupiter! It's amazing to me how much size has to do with viewing potential. Mars is a zillion times closer than Jupiter, but Jupiter is so huge that it can be seen in better detail. Approximately four Earths can fit inside Jupiter's red spot. Mars, however, when at it's closest point, can purportedly be seen in as much detail as the Moon. Be sure to check out Saturn sometime.

There were two specially equiped telescopes observing the sun at the Astronomy Day program. You could actually see prominences protruding from the sun's surface. The sun is so big that it takes up about 99.8% of the mass in our solar system. Diagrams never seem to express that.

Beth - That's a really cool comment you left. I'm glad that the entries had an effect on you. I didn't even know that you visited the blog. Why didn't you sign the "guestbook"?

Also, is this Beth Mayo, or Beth from the BSU Luncheon?

10:07 PM  
Blogger wes said...

When speaking of seeing Mars "in as much detail as the Moon", I meant, of course, with a telescope. I believe that Mars should reach that point sometime next summer.

10:12 PM  
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