February 5, 2020-
In engaging with a group of First Graders, this morning and afternoon, I was pleased to see that their awareness of the sky, our solar system, and constellations equals, if not surpasses, that of many in much older generations. There was even a mini-debate about whether Pluto should be still regarded as a planet. (My take is that it should be so regarded, given that it orbits the Sun and it has at least one moon.)
The kids have been taught well, as to how to recognize the various constellations. I was probably in fifth grade, before knowing of much more than the Big and Little Dippers, and Polaris. The ability to spot Antares, Betelgeuse and Sirius, among others, has already entered these children’s intellectual exchequers.
This exchange underscored the presence, at last night’s State of the Union, of an eleven-year-old boy, who has dreams of one day exploring our planet’s Moon, and Mars. The generation some call The Alphas will definitely have a shot at the beginning stages of human interplanetary travel, so this early awareness of the Heavens is well-placed.
I will spend another day with the group, tomorrow, and hope to engage them further, in the notion that humanity may both explore the near solar system and find ways to learn much about the systems orbiting the intriguing bodies of the Milky Way and beyond.