THE SOLUTION TO Weekly Challenge 7: Spaceship Earth

 Posted by DrJeff on September 15th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Read Original Challenge HERE.

MW

Photo caption: Computer-generated image of the Milky Way galaxy based on real data.

 

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge. It was requested by (teacher extraordinaire) Jami Lupold and her class in the great city of Houston, Texas, USA.

If you’re a teacher and your class has an idea for a blog post, slip me a note!

 

Last week I gave you a scare. It happened when I told you that you’re really on a spaceship hurtling through space. I was in the midst of describing all of Earth’s motions—it spins, it orbits the Sun, the Sun orbits the center of our galaxy carrying Earth and the Solar System along for the ride—and that’s when I saw panic on your face. You started to get a bit dizzy, so I turned on the “fasten seat belt sign” in light of all the conceptual turbulence ahead. To keep your mind off all the spinnin’ and revolvin’ I gave you an assignment to calculate Earth’s speed—your speed—due to these three motions. Does this all ring a bell? No? Why don’t you go and re-read the original challenge from last week, so you can refocus.

 

Good. Now that you’re back. Let’s get to the answers. Did I mention this week’s challenge was in our in-flight magazine in the seat pocket in front of you? By the way, I see you dug your fingernails into your seat, and your fingertips seem a bit blue. (Hope the answers don’t send you into a panic.)

 

And now the answers—


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Weekly Challenge 7: Spaceship Earth

 Posted by DrJeff on September 4th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

MW

Photo caption: Computer-generated image of the Milky Way galaxy based on real data.

 

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge. It was requested by (teacher extraordinaire) Jami Lupold and her class in the great city of Houston, Texas, USA.

If you’re a teacher and your class has an idea for a blog post, slip me a note!


 

You wanted to be an astronaut? Poof. Done.

 

You and your friends are on a spaceship called Earth—with all known life aboard. With you sitting there calmly reading this, and no obvious need to hold on to something for dear life, it might seem that the spaceship under your feet is carrying you on a nice steady trajectory through space. Uh … Nope. Right now you’re being carried along on something more akin to a cosmic-sized amusement park ride. Earth is rotating on its axis, it’s orbiting the Sun, and the whole Solar System (the Sun and its planets, dwarf planets, asteroids, comets, and Trans-Neptunian Objects) is orbiting the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way itself is moving relative to other nearby galaxies, the local group of galaxies is moving through a greater space, and all this is set against a backdrop of an expanding fabric of space and time across the entire universe. I know!!!! (© Craig Ferguson) Dizzy?

 

[Pleasant Ding] The captain has just turned on the seat belt sign. There may be some conceptual turbulence up ahead. But I’ll make the ride as smooth as possible.

 

OK, I think a Weekly Challenge requesting that you calculate all the spinning, and revolving, and free-flying is a bit much, so let’s concentrate on three things:

 

Here now the Challenge—

 

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THE SOLUTION TO Weekly Challenge 3: What Can You Do With a Humongous Piece of Xerox Paper?

 Posted by DrJeff on June 23rd, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Read Original Challenge HERE.

Untitled-1

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge and a Dr. Jeff’s Jeffism.


Last week on BotU, your challenge was to take an imaginary, truly humongous piece of xerox paper—but with normal xerox paper thickness—and figure out how many times you’d need to fold it in half so the folded thickness is the height of you, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and Mount Everest. For those that really wanted to challenge themselves, I invited you to keep folding so it would be thick enough to reach the Moon, the Sun, the nearest star, and beyond.


How’d you do?


BUT WAIT! If you haven’t yet read Weekly Challenge 3, DON’T LOOK AT THE SOLUTION HERE JUST YET! First read Weekly Challenge 3, or I’ll take back my paper.


First, a word from our sponsor—

You Want Me To Do What With a Bathroom Scale?

Weekly Challenge 4 to be posted Monday, June 29, 2009


Other Posts coming soon:

A Voyage in Corpus Christi

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, History Tells How Far You Are

Lessons of Earth

MESSENGER: Target Mercury


And now the answers—


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Weekly Challenge 3: What Can You Do With a Humongous Piece of Xerox Paper?

 Posted by DrJeff on June 15th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Untitled-1

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge and a Dr. Jeff’s Jeffism.

 

Math is the language of nature. If you yearn to know

how she operates, you must speak her language.

 

Before getting to the awesome challenge this week, I need to get something off my chest. It’s something very relevant to the challenge, but you might not think so at first—

 

My first language is English. I have very strong beliefs about how English should be taught in schools. I guess I’m a traditionalist. I also think that my views apply to how any language should be taught in schools around the world.

 

I think English belongs in English class. Period. You want to speak and read and write English, well do it in an English class. It doesn’t belong in a history class, or a science class, or for that matter a class on economics, art, sociology, psychology, or the law. Let’s keep English where it belongs. It’s just a language. So no English in those other classes. Just sit there and learn the concepts, nuances, big ideas, and emotional content of those subjects through …. osmosis. Think your thoughts toward other members of the class and share brain waves. And please, please … when you do this—DO NOT THINK YOUR THOUGHTS IN ENGLISH!

 

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My Really Long Drive with Jordi

 Posted by DrJeff on June 6th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

sun-earth-test1

 

This post is a Driving with Jordi, and a Dr. Jeff’s Jeffism.


“Daddy, how long would it take to drive around the Sun?”


So there we were on the Washington, DC, beltway heading for his elementary school. We were cruising at 60 mph—yes, on the beltway, I know!! (© Craig Ferguson, CBS).  Jordi said, “daddy, how far has this car gone since you and mommy got it?” I looked down at the odometer and read 249,000 and some odd miles. Cool! The ’95 Camry was doing just fine. Besides getting close to the 250,000-mile mark, the space guy in me knew that the Earth’s circumference is about 24,900 miles. “Jordi! This car could just have gone around the entire planet Earth 10 times!” He wasn’t expecting that answer. He thought that was … way cool. Cars aren’t supposed to be able to go around an entire planet are they?


But before we get to the rest of the story, first a detour at a Jeffism


Science Education is about conceptual understanding

at an emotional level.


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Our Earth in Space – the Nature of Our Existence

 Posted by DrJeff on May 28th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

suna

I started this blog to share exciting stories of exploration with those that teach the next generation—parents and teachers. I hope it can help you inspire our children. More generally, these stories are for anyone who gets joy from learning, and aspires to know.

 

If you really want to get a sense of where I”m coming from, read my Resource Page The Nature of Our Existence. I hope it moves you. And if it does, share it by leaving a comment on the bottom of the page.

 

It’s a story—a philosophy—reflecting programs developed and delivered over 19 years at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and across the nation—to families, teachers, and the public.

 

I’d like to see this blog continue for quite a long time. I’ve got lots to share. But that requires us to build an audience. So please let parents, teachers, and friends know about this blog so we can make a difference together. Send out a tweet or some emails!

 

You might also like to read other Resource Pages in the section called Dr. Jeff on Stuff (see the column at right.) And subscribe for e-mail notification to stay up-to-date with new Posts.

 

To all those teachers finishing their year and feeling exhausted, you could probably use a reaffirmation right now about why you went into teaching! I think reading The Nature of Our Existence might help. It’s a good way to start your summer!

—Dr. Jeff