Something important happens every day of the year. For example, imagine celebrating the New Year one day and getting an opportunity to celebrate a new celestial body on the next. Well, it almost happened.
On January 2nd in 1860 attendees at a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences in Paris, France were told of the discovery of a (hypothetical) planet dubbed Vulcan. The noted French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier, attempting to explain peculiarities of the planet Mercury’s orbit, suggested that another (unseen) planet, purportedly located in an orbit between Mercury and the Sun, was the cause of the astronomical aberrations.
Verrier, though intellectually brave for sharing his hypothesis, was incorrect. How do we know? Although there was an extensive search for Vulcan that planet was never found. The strangeness of Mercury’s orbit, the most eccentric orbit of all the planets in our solar system, have been explained by Albert Einstein‘s fascinating theory of general relativity. The short explanation is the Sun’s mass warps space-time around our resident star which, in turn, affects the orbit of the body closest to it, the small but speedy Hermean planet.
Apps for Autism (originally broadcast in October 2011 on CBS’s 60 Minutes) explored how tablet computers and special applications allow those challenged by ASD to communicate more efficiently and effectively.
Picture AAC app (from Hearty SPIN) is an iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch app that helps nonverbal individuals with autism and other special needs to communicate effectively using pictures.
If you run into cloudy conditions, you might not be able to see the meteors but you can still listen to the Quadrantids. How? Tune into SpaceWeather Radio. It’s a live audio stream from the Air Force Space Surveillance Radar. According to the SpaceWeather site, “When a Quadrantid passes over the facility, you will hear a ping caused by the radar’s powerful transmitter echoing from the meteor’s ion trail.”
After the show is over, catch a quick snooze, wake up and explore the rest of the universe with Celestia. It’s a free space simulation that lets you explore our universe in three dimensions!
Though sad, this historical event presents an engrossing opportunity for students and teachers to collaborate and engage in interdisciplinary research. It’s a perfect storm of learning. Delving into what lead up to the tragedy allows pupils to explore elements of:
Diving into this and other historical events, using them as case-study investigations into why and how things happen, makes learning more rewarding and allows students to integrate technology resources in a more meaningful manner.