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Oh My Stars!

We just started my favorite unit each year, Astronomy! We're blessed to have the opportunity to use the STARLAB portable planetarium. I usually reserve it for two weeks to allow us to get into some depth of the locations of certain stars and constellations.

Every schoolyear the content of the unit seems to grow. Mainly the material that we learn inside of the planetarium grows bit by bit. I now can show them the sixteen brightest stars in the Northern Hemisphere, and how to find them, and when. (Here's a link for the 12 brightest)

We also go into the myths behind the constellations. The STARLAB has different cylinders that show different things. The students sit in a circle along the wall and the projector is set up in the middle.

To begin I concentrate on the basic star field. I can set the latitude to where we're located, and the time of year so that they can see where the stars will be at a certain time of day on the current date. One of the things that I like about Astronomy is that I seem to learn something new just about every week. When I began using the STARLAB I didn't really know all that much compared to what I know now, and I continue to try to add more all the time.

One of the first things I emphasize is that living where we do, the winter/spring is one of the best times to see many constellations. I really enjoy the enthusiasm and excitement Astronomy generates in my students. They eat it up like a good piece of pie!

I would have to say that probably my favorite constellation is the easy to find Orion. I use this constellation to show them how to find nearly 10 more.

From there I change cylinders, and show them one that has the stars of constellations connected. They can then see the shapes, and get an idea of what people were picturing when they named them. We talk about what they are supposed to look like, and the constellations around them. Some of the constellations that we talk about are: Orion, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Gemini, Casseopeia, Taurus, Auriga, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Bootes, Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, and Leo.

We also look at some of the Native American constellations, and talk about how similar many are to the Greek constellations, even though they were imagined, or developed long, long ago.

Outside of the STARLAB planetarium we study the planets and other space phenomenon. I'm amazed at how much we've learned about our own Solar System in the past few years.

Did you know that in 1995 we believe that Jupiter had 16 moons. As of today, we've discovered 63 moons, and there is a great chance there are more.

Some other tidbits of info:

  • Venus is the only planet that rotates in an opposite direction of the other planets.
  • Uranus has an inclination of nearly 90 degrees, so it's nearly on its side
  • Saturn isn't the only planet with rings- Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus also have them.
  • Mars has the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons.
  • Jupiter's moon Ganymede is larger than the planet Mercury.
There are some great Astronomy sites out there. Here are a few that I like:
  1. Billy's Amazing Astronomy Facts
  2. Astronomy for Beginners - Amazing Astronomy Facts
And a great Blog dedicated to the subject: Tom's Astronomy Blog

There is so much more out there to learn. I could go on and on!


Real Teachers


Real teachers grade papers in the car, during commercials,
in faculty lounges and have been seen grading in church.

Real teachers cheer when they hear April 1 does not fall
on a school day.

Real teachers drive older cars owned by credit unions.

Real teachers clutch a pencil while thinking and make notes
in the margins of books.

Real teachers can't walk past a crowd of kids without
straightening up the line.

Real teachers have disjointed necks from writing on boards
without turning their backs on the class.

Real teachers are written up in medical journals for size
and elasticity of kidneys and bladders.

Real teachers have been timed gulping down a full lunch in
2 minutes, 18 seconds. Master teachers can eat faster than that.

Real teachers can predict exactly which parents will show
up at Open House.

Real teachers never teach the conjugations of lie and lay
to eighth graders.

Real teachers know it is better to seek forgiveness than to
ask permission.

Real teachers know the shortest distance and the length of
travel time from their classroom to the office.

Real teachers can "sense" gum.

Real teachers know the difference among what must be graded,
what ought to be graded, and what probably should never again
see the light of day.

Real teachers are solely responsible for the destruction of
the rain forest.

Real teachers have their best conferences in the parking lot.

Real teachers buy Excedrin and Advil in bulk.

Real teachers will eat anything that is put in the
workroom/teacher's lounge.

Real teachers know secretaries and custodians run the school.

Real teachers hear the heartbeats of crisis; always have
time to listen know they teach students, not subjects;
and they are absolutely non-expendable.


ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

What is ADHD?
ADHD is a condition that affects about 3% to 7% of school-aged children. Although symptoms are first noticed in childhood, some children's symptoms continue into their adult lives.

Symptoms of ADHD:
The most common behaviors exhibited by those who have ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

Causes of ADHD
The exact origin of ADHD is unknown, but scientists speculate that the disorder may be caused by one or more of several factors.

Treatment of ADHD
Although there is no "cure" for ADHD there are accepted treatments that specifically target its symptoms.

Consequences of untreated ADHD

How does someone seek help for this disorder?

For more information on ADHD, including possible prescriptions, you may want to check out this link:

More information on ADHD