UPDATE!Denise Wright, the VirtualSC instructor participating in a professional development initiative funded by the Boeing Observatory Grant awarded to the South Carolina Observatory at the South Carolina State Museum, was recently interviewed by the Free Times in Columbia, South Carolina. The interview gives perspectives from both the teacher and Tom Falvey, the director of education of the South Carolina State Museum. To read the interview, and learn more about the project, click here.
Last year, Denise Wright, a VirtualSC (VSC) science instructor, was selected to participate in a professional development initiative funded by the Boeing Observatory Grant awarded to the South Carolina Observatory at the South Carolina State Museum. As a result, Mrs. Wright’s students have been able to participate in science lessons, aligned to the state science standards, and conducted with a telescope in a distance learning environment.
In addition, the grant afforded Ms. Wright the opportunity to invite her VSC students to visit the state museum and tour the new planetarium.
While at the museum they attended a planetarium show, 4D Theater show, observatory visit and toured the historic telescope gallery. Matthew Whitehouse, the observatory manager, taught the students a lesson that included astronomy topics such as the history of the 1926 Alvan Clark Telescope and solar astronomy. Following the lesson, the students had the opportunity to view the sun through the museum’s solar telescope and participated in a hands-on lab with lenses that enabled them to learn about the focal length of telescopes. According to Mrs. Wright, “The student’s ‘aha!’ moment was visiting the observatory and climbing the ladder to look out of the 1926 refracting telescope, originally used at Columbia University, in New York. Students were impressed that something so ’old‘ could be retrofitted with the latest technology and turned into something new again. In today’s world we usually just keep upgrading to the newest tech device; however, this was not the case with this historic telescope.”
The field trip to the State Museum allowed the science students to pair the information that they are learning in their online environment with some hands-on experience. Mrs. Wright enjoys interacting with her students and looks forward to offering more hands-on learning opportunities in the future.