Students built a model of the results of the Let There Be Night experiment using over 35,000 LEGO blocks to represent the ideal night sky. From that 3D map, over 12,000 blocks had to be removed to represent the night sky lost to light pollution, according to over 3,400 student observations. The 3D model was displayed at Prairie Vista, left, October 5-9, 2009.
Galileo Summoned by 5th Grade Campers
During a rainy evening at Fifth Grade Camp, Prairie Vista 5th graders were able to summon Galileo from 400 years ago to appear at Camp Friedenswald. Mr. Snyder noted that 2009 is the 400th anniversary of Galileo making and using his first telescope, which is commemmorated by the 2009 International Year of Astronomy.
Galileo recreated the sights he saw at Jupiter, which the students interpreted as evidence that four objects revolved around that planet. Such an observation suggested the earth is not the immutable center of everything, as was widely believed in Galileo's time.
Galileo also declared PV students have observed the night sky as no one else has with their LTBN contributions. He encouraged PV students and families to do something with this original data and insight, just as Galileo himself did something with his original views of nature. He professed belief that the fifth grade students of PV can change the world by observing, interpreting, and sharing their findings, whether related to light pollution or to other scientific pursuits.
Student Addresses St. Joseph County Council
A Prairie Vista student was among the team who made a brief presentation to the St. Joseph County Council on March 24, 2009, at a committee meeting. SLT members described the three aspects of light pollution; suggested why the County should care and what's at risk; explained the LTBN community-wide experiment, both by thousands of students from their backyards and by SLTs at school grounds; and suggested what St. Joseph County can do to mitigate its light pollution. The Council generously received the group and afterward asked questions about local lighting issues.
FYI, the PV LTBN SLT with SQMs is ready. That is, the Prairie Vista team of students who will be measuring sky glow with Sky Quality Meters for the Let There Be Night experiment is ready. Shown at right, they met before March 14 to stake out an observing site and practice using the SQMs. They also got a peek at Venus in the western sky just after sunset. The planet was still fairly high, and it's crescent phase was prominent.
At a visit to the PHM Planetarium, Prairie Vista students were filmed for a news story by WNDU TV. Nice cheer at the end, PV!
Meeting with Mayor Rea
A Prairie Vista student asks something perhaps more of us should. For the 2009 Learningsphere he uses an SQM to compare the sky glow of his home community against the sky glow of a second location. His science fair display asks, "Where are all the stars?"
For a previous Learningsphere at Prairie Vista, a student asked, "Where have all the fireflies gone? See her project here.
Fifth Grade Camp Launches New
Turtle Hatch Activity
Students from Prairie Vista inaugurated the Turtle Hatch Activity at Fifth Grade Camp in 2008. Thanks for your willingness--teachers, parents, and students--to be bold and to try new things. The activity is now being done by groups and schools who are addressing the impact of outdoor lighting, including at PHM locations.
On September 23, 2008, Prairie Vista teachers prepare for LTBN at the first of two in-service sessions. The support of teachers is paramount to the success of this community-wide science experiment.