Subject: Launch Day
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 97 18:16:14 EST
Mike Reynolds Cranbrook Kingswood MS Grades 7 and 8 56 students Our launch day was nearly a complete success. I woke up to sleet, clouds and snow on the ground but by late morning the sun was shining and the snow had melted away. Typical weather in Michigan were we say if you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes. I have a group of about 19 students who meet with me every other day to work on the P.E.T. For launch day, however, we decided to invite the entire class to help collect data. We went to our site four times throughout the day, three times during school and once at night. During our first two trips we were able to use the core sampler, protractor, thread and weight to get a sighting on the sun. We used these two readings to calculate solar noon, when the sun was directly overhead. We calculated it to be 12:36. (We posted a picture of us taking a solar sighting) We confirmed this by using sunrise and sunset times also. The actual solar noon was at 12:35:30 so we were very close. When we got back to the school and tried using this information to calculate our longitude we discovered that we made some errors in our directions. We were still on daylight savings time so we were one hour off from our GMT. We also discovered that our formula for the correction factor for time were totally wrong. Instead of adjusting three hours of correction we were to adjust three minutes. After making this correction we calculated our longitude as 84W. Our actual longitude is slightly less. After school we all went to play on our school sports teams and then met for pizza before walking back to the site for our evening data collection. Temperatures began to drop and a new weather front moved in. We left our site at about 19:00 to walk up to our science museum and observatory. We have a 6 inch refracting scope mounted in a rotating observatory on our campus. It is very cool. Our plan was to observe Halebopp and Mars but the skies clouded over and so we had to cancel that part of our day. It was a shame as many of our parents joined us at the museum to share in that experience. We were also unable to sight Polaris and get a reading to calculate our latitude. It remained cloudy for the next four nights but we finally did calculate our longitude as 43N which is pretty close. Despite our disappointment we were able to learn about rocks at the museum's geology hall which has one of the finest rock and mineral collections in the midwest. I have some really terrific kids in my group and it has been great fun working with them on this project. We all wanted to express our gratitude to everyone who has worked so hard to make this program possible.