Put On Your Space Boots And Let’s Take A Solar Walk!
Type of Technology: iPad Application [Solar Walk]
SAMR Model: Modification
Grade Level: Any Grade Level
Subject Area: Earth Science
When I was a child, I distinctly remember looking up at the sky and thinking to myself,
How many stars are in the sky? Which bright lights are the planets? Why does the moon change shape? Is moon really made out of cheese?
My curiosity of the cosmos sparked my imagination, and in return made me want to learn more about our place in space. Unfortunately, times have changed, and any curiosity one may have can be answered as quickly and as easily as coming up with the question itself. All we have to do now is go to Google, type in our question, get our answer, and move on with our lives. There has to be a way in which we can use the technology we have at our disposal to not only answer the questions we may have about our place in the Milky Way, but also spark the imaginations of the children who will one day be our future astronomers or astronauts.
During our second and third trimester of the school year, my fifth grade classroom has been studying our Sun, Moon, and Planets. While in the midst our first lesson, I was eager to find an iPad app that would be able to supplement the lessons I have been teaching during this time frame. After numerous downloads and deletions of apps, I came across an app that provided exactly what I was looking for.
Solar Walk is an all in one iPad application that provides a three dimensional view into our Solar System and Galaxy. This application has also become a staple in reinforcing concepts for my students, as well as igniting the imaginations of all my students to discover the marvels of the world around them.
Solar Walk is a fitting name because it does just that. It allows you take a stroll through our Solar System and visit our sun, planets, and dwarf planets our Solar System has to offer. You also have the capability to visit each planets respective moons, as well as the asteroids and comets that travel through our Solar System. The app also provides detailed descriptions of each celestial body, such as the Internal Structure, Volume, Mass, Density, Gravity, Length of Day, or Length of Year, just to name a few.
Along with all the features stated above, Solar Walk also displays the orbits of the planets, moons, comets, and asteroids, all in real time. This feature was great for my classroom because one of our lessons focused on why we have daytime and nighttime. After the lesson, I projected Solar Walk onto our class television to demonstrate which half of the Earth was experiencing daytime and which side was experiencing nighttime at that exact moment. Another lesson was based on the phases of the moon, in which I once again projected Solar Walk and displayed what phase we were currently in to reinforce what the students had just learned.
Ultimately, I have only scratched the surface of what this app can do to supplement a unit on the Sun, Moon, and Planets. Solar Walk provides an in depth, interactive look into our Solar System that no textbook could replicate, but also leaves enough to the imagination that makes students want to learn more about their place in space. So go out and get yourself some space boots and take a Solar Walk with your students!