Thursday, September 20, 2018

How long does it take to orbit the earth?

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
I share a lot of recent updates on space exploration with my classes - often times via their twitter feeds. There's lots of wonder out there that's accessible to students of all ages. New hi def images are arriving all the time from far off satellites that are available for download to anyone with a Chromebook. That was this week's #studyhallassignment.

Today, the discussion led to this great question from my 6th grade HW, "How long does it take to orbit the earth?" which, has an insanely elegant mathematical answer, depending directly on the distance from earth. Astronaut Chris Hadfield has this great explanation (sorry about the ad):

Hatfield answers a whole series of questions during his time on the International Space Station, all of which are available on YouTube, including this one, which is by far my favorite.


 I post here largely as a place holder for some of my favorites, and to announce that I've added a widget to the bottom of my page, which can help you spot the International Space Station, the third brightest object in our sky.

 Have fun!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


Wind speed and direction, October 30, 2012; 
The folks at invent new ways for people to think and talk about data. Above is a screenshot of one of their wind maps. Click here to find a live wind map from It is mesmerizing.

1. What do you think was happening on October 30, 2012? How can you find that above?

2. Click the live wind map. What patterns are you noticing? Where do there appear to be weather events happening right now?

3. Click on your favorite weather app to find a radar map of the U.S, like Weather Underground. Does the live radar picture match the wind map?