Friday, September 12, 2008

Searching For Planets in Astronomy with Mr. McRae

As I walk through the classrooms of BHS I am constantly amazed at the quality of teaching that I see. Our teachers go above and beyond to help kids make connections to what they are learning. A perfect example is the attached video that Astronomy teacher Alan McRae made for his students to support a recent lesson. The video includes the hands-on experiment that the students did to make the connection to the lesson.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! It may take a minute or two to load.

Here is Mr. McRae's overview:
In science class, we are currently learning about the search for extrasolar planets - those planets that circle other stars. One of the main techniques to detect these planets is to look for wobbling stars. This video features students who are modelling this phenomenon by tossing connected balls into the air. One of the lessons to be learned: the more "massive" the planet, the greater effect it has on its "star" - helping the students understand why so many of the hundreds of extrasolar systems detected have big, Jupiter-like planets in them. Also, the idea of center of mass is targeted here, since it not only accounts for how stars wobble, but is seen on even bigger scales with the animations of colliding galaxies.

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