Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jan 30-31 Identifying Minerals

8th Grade

Today's theme was identifying minerals using physical characteristics.

Today in class we went over the difference between fracture and cleavage in minerals. Following this brief discussion (and a story about a meat cleaver) we broke into groups and went through six stations that demonstrated each physical characteristic used to ID minerals.

We touched on smell, taste, feel, chemical reactivity, radioactivity, optical properties, density, hardness, color, luster, magnetism and fluorescence.

If you missed this class please review pages 8-11 in our Inside the Restless Earth textbook

Jan 30-31Finding and Understanding the Stars.

7th Grade

Today we found out how to find the north star by using the Big Dipper.

We then discussed the ancient and current use of the constellations, then talked about what the motion of the stars would do to the constellations as time passed.

In the second portion of class we talked about and demonstrated the use of Declination and Right Ascension to create a coordinate system to map the stars.

In the third portion of class we looked at the scale of the universe by watching the movie "Powers of Ten"

Monday, January 28, 2008

Jan 28/29 Ancient Observatories and 4 clues its a mineral

7th grade

We took brief notes on the the theories or famous deeds of astronomers Ptolemy, Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Galileo and Isaac Newton. We then broke into our groups and built our ancient observatories. Students build models of Stonehenge, Maya pyramids, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Sun Dagger at Chaco canyon and others.

8th grade

We discussed four questions used to decide if something is a mineral then we broke into groups and used the four questions to determine if shells, bones, fossils, concrete and other samples were minerals.

We then got back and learned the phrase OSiAlFe which stands for Oxygen, Silicon, Aluminum and Iron, the most common elements on the earth.. We also learned to draw a box and estimate the amount of each element on the earth.

Finally we took some notes on Silicate and Non-Silicate minerals.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jan 24th-25th Ancient Astronomers and Half Life

7th Grade

Ancient astronomers and the calendar.

Today we defined the day, the month and the year in terms of the movement of the Earth, Sun and Moon then we discussed and then viewed a video on how the Anasazi used buildings and windows as calendars. We also read page 6-7 in our astronomy book and then discussed why early civilizations needed astronomy.

For next class we need to research an ancient astronomy site of our choosing (like Stonehenge, the Great Pyramids, etc), then bring in craft supplies. We will build a model of our site in our next class session.

8th Grade

Radiation and Half Life

We finished our presentations on radioactivity then worked on an activity that explored half life. This was the last activity for our Interactions of Matter book. We will start on Minerals with our next class.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jan 22-23 Radiation Presentations and Extinction Event

January 22-23

8th grade--Presentations on Radiation

We presented our slides on radiation problems and solutions. We will finish up presentations and review the concept of half-life next class then work on a lab on half life. Our books will be collected on January 24th and 25th.

7th grade--We started Astronomy off with a bang!

We viewed meteor craters on the moon, in Arizona and in Peru then debated whether or not large meteors could still impact the earth today. We then watched a video simulation of a large meteor hitting the earth and destroying all life.

Finally we created Astrolabes out of protractors, straws and small weights (page 3 in the astronomy textbook) then took turns shooting the altitude of different objects.

Interested students can look up Near Earth Objects at

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Welcome parents and students

My goal with this blog is to briefly summarize the daily occurrences in my classroom, room 121 at Thompson Middle School.

This blog is not a substitute for finding out what a student may have missed during an absence. As per Thompson school recommendations each student should choose a homework buddy and then check with that buddy in order to gather makeup work and class notes.