When my student Vannisa wanted to write a fall poem, she looked to the skies. She wrote this poem including the science of meteor showers that occur in fall.
As We Fall
As we fall into winter,
the weather chills
and the leaves come down.
They fill the ground with
a fiery red
and blazing orange.
As we fall into winter,
we can no longer watch fireworks
like 4th of July,
but we can watch
the shooting stars of
Orionids and Leonids
and watch the days get shorter
until Spring comes back again.
She had a blog comment on her poem asking her more about the Orionids. When she was looking for something to research for her Wonder of the Week, I suggested the meteor shower. Each week I have my students use Wonderopolis to read nonfiction and respond by writing about what they learned. They then have the option to create a class presentation using technology.
Vannisa had to expand her research beyond Wonderopolis and this was my intent all along, that some little spark would send my students into real, authentic research.
Know: Orionids is a meteor shower that occurs in late October. A shooting star is a meteor and not an actual star. The name for the shower is Orionids because most of the comets will be toward the constellation Orion.
Wonder: What Causes a Shooting Star?, Where Is the Big Dipper?, How Many Stars Are In The Sky?
Learned: A meteor is formed from rock that burns up in Earth’s atmosphere, causing it to look like a streak of light in the sky. A piece of a meteor is called a meteorite. The Big Dipper is mostly referred to as a constellation, but it’s actually an asterism. Our galaxy has about 200 billion to 400 billion star. Scientist predict that there are 100 billion to 200 billion galaxies in the universe. Based on the latest estimates, astronomers guess that there are 300 sextillion stars in the universe which is 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. That is 1 billion times 1 billion times 3!
Burning Question: How did they find out how many stars there are?
Days when learning and creativity come together I realize the true joy of discovery. I strive to give my students the open door that will lead them on their own journey of learning, not down a path I have designed, but one they have chosen. It doesn’t happen every day. But with Vannisa and her spark of interest in meteor showers, these two paths converged and made meaningful learning. Through blogging, she was able to share it with others. Win. Win.
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