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Kirtland. Seeing Stars.

Even though they were anxious for summer vacation to kick in, students from several area schools had a great time learning about the northern skies, thanks to the efforts of Kirtland’s Scott Cochran and Pam Nuttall before the school year wrapped up.  This Week @ Kirtland, we’re gazing at the sun and stars…and learning some pretty cool stuff along the way.

Kirtland instructor Scott Cochran shows students at Roscommon Middle School how to safely view the daytime skies using a white-light filter to block 99% of the light coming into the telescope

Kirtland instructor Scott Cochran shows students at Roscommon Middle School how to safely view the daytime skies using a white-light filter to block 99% of the light coming into the telescope

At Grayling Middle School, Scott conducted his 3rd annual day of solar observing with Chris Kucharek’s 8th grade students. For solar viewing, Scott teaches the students the importance of using special equipment because, as we all know, “Mama always told me not to look into the eye’s of the sun.” But, using a 4.5″ wide field Newtonian telescope with a solar filter, students are able to check out the daytime skies thanks a special white-light filter that blocks about 99% of the light coming into the telescope, therefore making it is safe to use. At an evening observation at Hanson Hills Scott and Pam brought out the ever-popular “Big Blue,” a 13″ telescope Scott used to help students identify Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, the Sombrero Galaxy and the globular cluster in Hercules.

Scott also shared his solar gazing expertise with 6th, 7th and 8th grade students at Roscommon Middle School. Despite some early clouds, most of these students were able to get a chance to peer through the telescope.  At both events Scott fielded extensive questions from inquisitive students on topics ranging from how the Universe works and what’s going on in other galaxies…and, of course, aliens!

Fairview Area Schools checked out the evening skies using Kirtland's 13" Big Blue telescope

Fairview Area Schools checked out the evening skies using Kirtland’s 13″ Big Blue telescope

Wrapping up the school visits, Scott and Pam visited Fairview Middle School to lead a group of about 30, which included 5th grade, 8th grade, high school students and parents through another night-time observing session using Big Blue to again observe Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, the Sombrero Galaxy and the globular cluster in Hercules.

“It’s great spending time with the kids and helping them to learn more about the solar system and helping them to develop a hopefully lifelong interest in science and the wonders of the universe,” said Cochran. “ I believe it is a primary responsibility of people in my position to work with other educators to do whatever we can to bring the knowledge we love to kids and the community, and do all we can to support those teachers.  I really love doing these events and seeing young minds open up to new things.”

Seeing the spark of learning ignite in our community’s young learners is rewarding – and contagious! You can look forward to more awesome learning activities in the future – I can see it in the stars!

To learn more about the programs, advising, testing, veteran services, financial aid and other resources available to students, contact 989-275-5000, extension 284, or visit us online.  And, as always, you are invited to drop in and check us out at www.kirtland.edu, follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/kirtlandcc, and like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/kirtlandcc.

Kirtland. Be the future.