Even though this is my second time coming to Haiti to lead activities with students, I still wasn’t really sure what to expect. Our first activity focused on the Solar System and how gravity plays a role in keeping planets in order and orbiting the Sun. I was unsure of what students would know, or remember from previous years, or how well they would be able to apply the prior knowledge that they had. I am happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised by my experiences today! All three classrooms, two with 9-11 year olds and one with 13-14 year olds, were engaged and interested in learning, or in some cases reviewing, about the Solar System.
While only the oldest students had any prior knowledge on gravity, or the scientists who made discoveries related to the topic, all of the classes asked questions that made me stop and think. One student asked about what makes a black hole, with a follow-up on why stars collapse. Another student questioned us about dark matter and how Vera Rubin, one of the scientists featured on our daily poster, determined it must exist. Luckily, the activity had already had students rank planets by their orbital speed and we had talked about the effects of distance on gravity so a quick review of that topic left all students with an understanding of Rubin’s work. Continuing on with our narrative of planning a space trip, now that we have talked about what is needed to plan a course, tomorrow we will focus on traveling along that path on a rock. Additionally, tomorrow night is our Family Star Party where students and their parents will be able to ask us questions and look through telescopes.
More updates to come!