March 9, 2012 > Gazing at the stars
Gazing at the stars
Article and photos submitted by Lisa Hallas
Friday, February 24 was a spectacular night for the Mattos Elementary School "star gazing" party. The sky was clear and the weather was unseasonably warm which brought out many of the school's families to the annual Astronomy Night. The event kicked off at 6 p.m. with early telescope viewing.
Twelve telescopes were set up to view planets such as Venus, Jupiter and Mars, in addition to the Pleiades star cluster, the Great Orion Nebula and a few double stars including Almach in the constellation Andromeda. Mattos' new telescope was acquired through the generous donation of Grace Gellerman and Martin Burbidge, and the David H. Rogers Questar Telescope on loan to Mattos through the kindness of the Benzler-Lew Family, was also put to good use.
The guest lecturer from City College of San Francisco, Todd Rigg-Carriero, wowed the crowd in the multipurpose room with his review of craters and "What Goes Bump in the Universe"! His interactive presentation and demonstration intrigued all ages, from preschool through adult.
Everyone was now ready to go look for craters on the various planets through the telescopes. Some of the planets were so popular that the lines for the telescopes were up to 10 people long. But, with the expert telescope operators guiding the viewers, everyone was able to see the gems of the universe. As one fourth-grader exclaimed, "Mom! I just saw a cool planet."
When families wanted to warm up with a cup of tea or hot chocolate, they went to the bake sale for a little treat. The bake sale was in the Susan Burgess Science Lab along with hands on activities such as creating your own craters and mapping the constellations. Several Kennedy High School student volunteers helped with the hands-on activities. A third grader said to her friend in the science lab, "Let's try to make a big crater in the sand."
Mattos Elementary School is the only school in the Fremont Unified School District with a Science Magnet Program called "Soaring into Science." Mattos has a dedicated science teacher, a science lab for grades 1 - 6 and has at least three science-related events per year for its students and families. To learn more about the school and its science program, visit: http://www.fremont.k12.ca.us/Domain/1173