On Tuesday, March 13, Delavan-Darien fifth and sixth graders enjoyed a second day of Astronomy Exploration as part of a C.O.A.S.T. workshop that had begun on January 24th.
The workshop was led by Wileman Elementary School fifth grade teacher Amy Bauer and Phoenix Middle School sixth grade teacher Barb Perez.
Students had the amazing privilege of spending the day at Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay. Yerkes Education Coordinator Vivian Hoette helped to organize the unforgettable day.
“Every moment of the day was filled with exciting activities for our kids,” Perez said. “The theme of the day was ‘Telescopes.’ Students had previously studied how to locate objects in the night sky and on this day they were able to see that put into practical use with the telescopes at Yerkes.”
Students began their day by experimenting with lenses. Then they went on to put together a small Galilean telescope. They moved from this to seeing the “HAWC,” which is an infrared telescope that is being built and tested at Yerkes and will one day fly on the SOFIA (the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy). Students talked to Yerkes Instrumental Scientist Marc Berthoud, who explained how the HAWC would work and what type of information it would collect. The students then went to another room to see up close how an infrared camera works.
An extra bonus for the day came next. Our students were able to video-conference with Max Mutchler, a scientist who runs NASA’s Hubble Telescope. Max explained to them how the Hubble works and described what the pictures look like when they are taken. The students were able to ask questions and talk to Max themselves.
Now if all that wasn’t enough, a “working lunch” was arranged on the facility’s back lawn, when students got to use the special telescope to look at the sun and its sunspots.
To top off the day, students were given the enviable opportunity to look out of the world’s largest 40-inch refracting telescope. Dr. Kyle Cudworth, who runs the telescope, showed the students how this telescope works and let them look through it to see Venus in the afternoon sky.
“They were so excited,” Perez said. “The students did not stop talking all the way home. We are very thankful to the kind, generous people at Yerkes for allowing our students to have this wonderful experience. A special thanks also to Becca Russel, Brittnay Struble, Ed Sadler and Frank Mills who were also teaching and sharing with the students on this day.”
The Yerkes trip was offered through the district’s Creating Opportunities for Abilities and Special Talents Program (C.O.A.S.T. Program) is the district’s gifted and talented program. It offers academic enrichment and acceleration opportunities for students in all grade levels.