Friday, November 20, 2009

November 16, 2009 Day 1 The Launch

9:30 am Kindergartners unpacked the rearing boxes this morning and positioned them on their sides on the observation table in our classroom. We made observations and the first entry in our journals. (Note: Though project protocol requires us to keep the caterpillars in complete darkness until the day the astronauts transfer the rearing chambers the ISS, we chose to keep our rearing chambers on the observation table during the time the kindergartners were in the room so they could make daily observations.) We have 4 rearing boxes; three with 3 caterpillars, one with 4 caterpillars. The observation table is in an area of the room that averages 70 degrees F/20 degrees C.

Today we observed several caterpillars on the milkweed "pesto" in the food boxes, several on the edges of the food boxes, and several on the "ceiling" of the box, being very still. A kindergartner noticed tiny rounds of caterpillar poop. This news spread like wildfire. Kindergartners remembered that we used the word "frass" in September when we observed monarch caterpillars in the terrarium. Kindergartners practiced making written records with drawings of their observations of the caterpillars.

2:00 pm Kindergarten was invited to the blue rug during cooperative play time to explore NASA's website page featuring NASA TV. Projected on to a screen in our room from the computer, live video from the launch site showed various angles of the space shuttle on the launch pad, mission control, computerized maps of the position of the International Space Station, and spectators. A few kindergartners showed up early to watch but at 2:20 pm, we gathered all kindergartners to watch the launch. It was very, very exciting. There was a buzz in the air as we saw the countdown at 1 minute 30 seconds...and then just before 2:28 pm, the final seconds, with the Atlantis crew in charge, we counted along: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...Lift-off!
"Monarchs are in space!" we cheered on the caterpillars and the astronauts. We watched as various cameras captured images of the first 11 minutes in space. Eyes were riveted to the screen until we had to pack up for dismissal.

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