Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Over the Moon

Do you believe there is a man on the moon?
By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager
Did your grandma tell you “the cow jumped over the moon?” Do you believe that there is a man on the moon? On July 20, 1969, do you remember seeing the first man step on the moon broadcast on television?
From ancient times to the present, people have been fascinated with that continuously changing, orb in the night sky. Scientists have given us more understanding, but it retains its mysterious qualities, too. In 1988, people who were surveyed believed that the moon was made of cheese.
Early Babylonians thought that women were more fertile during the time of the full moon, and today people continue to think that more babies are born during that phase. The word “lunacy” comes from the Greek word “lunar” meaning moon, and some maintain that crimes, murders, and suicides increase at that time.
Mothers used to be afraid to hang diapers out to dry in the moonlight because it was bad luck. Curtains were drawn in bedrooms because moonlight shining on a person was considered bad luck too. Some farmers still gage when to plant crops, and others decide when to start a new business or to begin a courtship on the phases of the moon.
There is a man on the moon, so to speak. Dr. Eugene Shoemaker was the geologist who educated the Apollo Mission astronauts about the geology of the moon. It was his lifelong wish that he would go to the moon, so when he died, his ashes were placed on the Lunar Prospector spacecraft in 1999. When the spacecraft was deliberately crashed into a crater in order to see if there was water on the moon, his remains were left there.
The moon is a satellite of the Earth, and we only see 59% of it because of the rotations of the two bodies. Forty-nine moons would fit inside of the Earth, but sometimes, it appears much larger because of its closeness to our planet.
This year we have seen several blue moons, blood red moons, and super moons. Blue moons occur when a month has two full moons, and the second one is known as a blue moon.
In April and October of 2014 and then again in April and September of 2015, super moons or perigee moons will occur because the moon’s orbit will bring it closer to earth than usual.
We will see the stunning blood red moons twice when the earth passes between the sun and moon causing a lunar eclipse. The sun’s rays will be blocked but some will make it to reflect off the moon causing a brilliant, reddish-orange color. This phenomenon is also known as the harvest moon.
Over the centuries, observers have made countless predictions about the future including the end of civilization bases on the appearance and events related to the moon. I prefer to accept and enjoy it as another of nature’s magnificent gifts.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Children are Changing

Technology can be a wonderful thing, but it has drawbacks

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager
For 44 years, I have taught children, and as Oprah says, “This I know for sure... .”
Technology is changing children and not always for the better. That’s my opinion, and last week I read an article published on RealSimple.com, “The Alarming Truth About What Smartphones Could Be Doing to Your Kids” by Samantha Zabell —  which I believe supports what I think.
From ages 8 to 18, a Kaiser Family Foundation study found that children spend more than seven hours per day using media outside of school. From 2011 to 2013 the percentage of children with access to smart devices has grown from 52 percent to 75 percent.
The University of California at Los Angeles wanted to investigate the real cost of the technology time.
The researchers decided to work with sixth graders in a public school who had reported using technology including texting, video games, and television for more than four hours per day. They gave the kids a test to evaluate their emotional intelligence or their ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions.
Then, they divided the subjects into two groups. One went to Pali Institute in California, a nature and science camp, where the students were immersed in outdoor activities and were unable to use electronic devices of any type for five days.  On the first test, the camp group averaged 14.01 errors when judging emotions, but on the second test they made 9.41 errors.  Students who remained at school did not show any significant improvement when retested.
So is emotional intelligence really important? Leaders in the field of psychology like Edward Thorndike, David Wechsler, Abraham Maslow, and Howard Gardner worked with measuring intelligence as related to learning potential. With the publication in 1995 of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Matters more than I.Q. by Daniel Goleman, people started to understand the impact of E.I. and the best seller brought the topic to the forefront.
Plato said, “All learning has an emotional base.” If a child has a less than average ability to evaluate emotions, will it affect learning and also social adjustment?  If our kids are not learning to properly relate to each other because of lost time with people, will there be consequences for teaching and society in general?  I believe that we are already seeing the results.
Over the past 20 years, scientific research in the fields which focus on learning like psychology, cognitive science, and psychobiology have revealed information which have had significant effects on teaching and learning. As parents and teachers, we should study the research and not be charmed by the lure of technology to seemingly make everything better.
Limiting the use of technology is a responsibility of adults.  It can be a wonderful tool for learning for all of us, but it can also have its drawbacks.
Child development must be nurtured and protected.  Too much time with technology can be harmful to the child as a learner and as a developing adult.

(Source: www.globalstudentnetwork.com)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fostering the Gift of Curiosity

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager

You can see it in their eyes.  It sparkles and lights up their faces.  It’s curiosity, and it must be cultivated and nurtured, or it will die. 
            Eleanor Roosevelt said, “…at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.”  Curiosity might be the mother of invention, but it is also the mother of learning.
            Some children seem to lose some of their drive to learn and explore as they approach the middle school years, and teachers and parents become anxious to get back that childhood enthusiasm for learning.  Where did it go?
            Many books have been written, teaching techniques explored, and countless hours of research spent in the quest for the answer to what keeps the desire for learning at its peak. 
Of course, there is no simple answer, but after many years of teaching, I believe that parents and teachers must continuously act as facilitators for learning.  They should be relentless in their efforts to follow the interests that the child expresses and to provide materials and experiences in those particular areas of interest.
 A child is his or her own best teacher.
 Childhood is full of opportunities for exploration through toys, games, books, movies, television, and countless child centered activities.  Places like the Museum of The Albemarle, Arts of the Albemarle, and Port Discover are settings where kids can experiment and find their personal interests.
 For all of the criticism directed at media, they also provide many golden sparks for kids’ curiosity.   Finding Nemo, the Ice Age series, Madagascar series, Wall-E, Lorax, Rio, Bambi, and 2001, A Space Odyssey all cause kids to wonder about the world of science. 
Although the science is not always the most accurate in such programs as Sponge Bob and other cartoons, they still might cause the child to ask questions and become interested.  
That’s when the parent can seize the opportunity to acquire books, magazines, and materials from the library, take the child on a field to a museum or science program, or just probe for questions that the child might be wondering about and try to answer them.
One avenue that can be helpful is keeping up with current science events.  Just this summer there have been so many topics to explore like global warming, drought, flooding, space exploration, archeological discovery, and the list goes on and on. 
  One of my newest discoveries is www.neok12.com  which is a treasure house of free online videos, lessons, quizzes, games, and puzzles for kids, teachers, and parents.  Organizations such as the British Broadcasting Company offer documentaries on a variety of topics such as prehistoric America, dinosaurs, and the Ice Age.  
Remember that a child’s first question is usually “Why?”  As their first teacher, you can easily become equipped with all that you need.  You will probably learn something together, and that’s the fun of it.  
(Source: www.nature-reserve.co.za)

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