Tuesday I gave talks on space exploration to over 500 6th grade science students at Lake Travis Middle School. Response was good. The large groups right after lunch and at the end of the day were a challenge at times. I focused on why we choose to some observations from the ground and some from space as well as the tradeoffs between robotic exploration and human crews. I also included bits about Texas connections, roller derby and gravitational assist, a solar system sized telescope, and sending ground laser powered probes to the nearest exo-planets (Breakthrough Starshot).
The number of questions varied a lot from group to group so each talk was a bit different. Where I had time I closed with a bit on personal exploration and star parties using the short A New View of the Moonvideo which was very effective. The talks were in the gym and there were three or four classes in the largest groups. I was very impressed with the teachers. I was exhausted at the end of the day. Any teacher effectively handling six periods with some classes of more than 40 students is impressive! The presentations were in a large gym which made hearing questions difficult. A lapel mike would have helped a lot. I feel good about carrying this off, and am digesting ideas about how I can be more effective with this age group. It was a great opportunity to have access to so many students, but I think smaller groups and venues are definitely easier.
Thanks to Dana Schrader for the image above.
Content created: 2019-05-08
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