Teacher Tips

 I kept telling students how scientists cannot always use direct measurement (counting the grains one at a time). Therefore, methods must be used to estimate. To emphasize this, I asked the students how long would it actually take to count one million, billion or trillion if you counted one grain of salt each second. (That is one million seconds = ? time that you can visualize (min, hr,day,years) one billion seconds = ? time that you can visualize (min, hr,day,years) one trillion seconds = ? time that you can visualize (min, hr,day,years) Using calculators they calculated that one million seconds = 11.7 days one billion seconds = 31.7 years one trillion seconds = 31,700 years (This allowed them to use the 10^x function on their calculators - not even invented when I was in high school or college!!) Some students did not even try. Some started by trying 60*60*24*365. (I am always amazed at how little some students know about basic conversions.) MOST WERE VERY SURPRISED BY THESE RESULTS. This activity also showed that different CORRECT methods can be discovered by scientists (and students) - not just one right way. Cathy McQuone

 Dear Discuss-suners, I teach high school physics and I have many budding new astronomers just waiting for stuff like Live from Mars or Live from the Sun to come out. The tight curriculum I have for them in physics offers no excitement in the way of real-time astronomy. That is something I must furnish and thank goodness for these Live From... modules. I cannot afford a 4 week piece of time but I can give my students on day a week for as long as it takes to cover the material, and I have found in the past that the material is so versatile that I can often refer to it throughout the year once they have covered a particular unit. I am still using many of the ideas from the Mars curriculum, and I think this Live from the Sun will have lots of units in it that I can use year after year. I have to supliment my courses with curriculum like this to keep my students interested and up to date with what is happening in the news. I like the approach that is made to every new topic and the versatility that allows a teacher to bring the lesson up to higher grade levels or down to lower grades. Just my thoughts. gheri fouts