Thursday, 14 June 2012

A Term of Fair Testing

Our school Science Week is next week and walking around the school, it is great to see so much science happening in all the classes.

Leading up to next week, boys across all year levels have been learning about fair testing and how to conduct a scientific investigation.  Both Year 4 and Year 5 have conducted a number of fair tests and in the science room they investigated what was the best substance to put on roads to stop them being icy and slippery.  Classes were divided into groups and then each group carefully tested four different substances by sprinkling them onto ice cubes and then observing and recording which ice cube melted the fastest.  From this, they learnt how to identify the different variables, the importance of fair testing and repeat testing, how to write observations, record data and form conclusions based on what their results told them. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Transit of Venus 2012

Tomorrow is a special, one of a kind sort of day.  Tomorrow is the Transit of Venus.  This is the day when Venus will pass between the sun and Earth.  It was last seen  in June 2004, and before that in December 1882.  This event is so rare, that no-one alive today will see it again.
Historically, the Transit of Venus has been used to help calculate the earth's distance from the Sun.  This rare alignment is how we measured the size of our solar system.  Captain James Cook observed the 1769 Transit on his ill-fated Tahiti voyage.  Many explorers and astronomers have made great voyages to learn more about the planets through the Transit of Venus.

The transit will cross the edge of the Sun at about 10.15am and take 18 minutes to move completely on to the solar disc.  The mid-point will be at 1.30pm and Venus will exit the disc at 4.25pm.

New Zealand's weather forecast is not looking good!  With much rain and cloud forecast, the chance of having a clear view is very slim.  Lets keep our fingers crossed.


Have you ever taken a magnifying glass out into the sun and burnt leaves or paper?  When the focused sunlight comes through the lens, it is refracted and concentrated to a small spot.  In your eye, you have a lens just like that.  If you look at the sun, your eye-lens will concentrate the sun's light and focus it to a very small spot on the back of your retina.  This can cause permanent eye damage or blindness.  There are no pain sensors back there so you won't even know it's happening!!

Even if our view is very brief, it is very important that we do not look directly at the sun.  Special viewing glasses can be purchased from both the Carter Observatory and the Astronomical Society of NZ.  You can also make yourself a simple pinhole projector (the exploratorium has a simple explanation), all you need is some white card and a pair of binoculars.