by Coraline Crannell
Recently, on December 8th, eighth grade science students got the opportunity to come back to school in the evening and listen to a presentation about space rocks, get to touch some cool rocks in a classroom, and then use a high-tech telescope that was set up outside. Though most students may have only gone for the extra credit points and hot cocoa that had been promised, many enjoyed it more than they expected they would.
This educational night was run by members of the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit (SBAU), a local astronomy group whose goal is to promote interest and learning in astronomy throughout the city. This is a great group that holds many public astronomy talks and events all over Santa Barbara. To get more information, go to www.sbau.org.
Upon first arriving at 6:30, students and their families listened to a slideshow presentation in the Marjorie Luke Theatre about space rocks. It talked about different meteors and comets, including all the different types of them, where most came from, and specific details about them and where they landed and how they got their names. This event was really interesting to me, and I learned a lot of cool facts I never discovered before. Next, we walked over to Ms. Garza’s room, along the way picking up a cup of rich hot cocoa on the way; hot and delicious. In the classroom, there were two stations, both very interesting. The first had a bunch of space rock pieces enclosed in their glass cases, along with two that you could touch, and all the information was provided on the laminated sheet below including it’s name, the type of meteorite it was, where it was found, where it is from, about how long ago it formed, and tons of other interesting information scientists were able to gain through radioactive dating. The other station had a bunch of flash cards, with space and planet trivia questions on them. A Unit member was standing behind the table, calling out the questions, and people surrounding it were trying again and again to get a question correct. To wrap up the night, everyone went outside, where we looked up at the beautiful night sky and talked with their friends, while waiting in line to look through the organization’s high-tech telescope. Through the telescope, students could see stars that were part of the Pleiades constellation, or the Seven Sisters, which would be unable to be seen with a regular telescope.
The Santa Barbara Junior High School Astronomy Night was a great learning experience for many, and one that everyone enjoyed.