While the job of charting the stars usually falls to NASA or characters in science fiction, eighth-graders at Dempsey Middle School tried their hand at it Wednesday morning in their advanced physical science class.
Science teacher Lisa Giddings said students would be divided into several groups and each group would be given part of the Virgo Cluster, a list of galaxies and their X and Y coordinates and tasked with accurately charting the galaxies on a large piece of paper. Giddings said the students will color the galaxies and then when all the groups are finished the papers will be combined to show a more complete picture of the Virgo Cluster.
“This is the end of our astronomy unit,” Giddings said. She said hopefully the completed project will give her students a sense of scale. “Astronomy helps them understand that elements that are inside planets are the same elements inside us. “
The students said Wednesday that the astronomy section has changed the way they think about the world.
“It kind of opens your mind to a whole new world,” said Connor Bryant. “[I liked] learning about the idea of how big we are.”
Bryant’s classmate and one of his lab partners, Adam Willis, agreed.
“It shows the world is so small,” Willis said. Willis and Bryant equated the size to being a grain of sand in a massive desert. “It also shows how much we don’t know about the galaxy.”
Giddings said the advanced class is technically a high school class and said the students who pass it will have science credits when they start at Delaware Hayes High School. Giddings added that she works with teachers at the high school to ensure the students are learning the same things a freshmen would learn.
Eighth grader Ally Gray said that she joined the class as a challenge.
“I’ve always liked science and I like to push myself,” Gray said. “Plus, my sister had Mrs. Giddings and really liked her.”
Giddings said the students would be finishing the projects and combining the charts on Thursday.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.