Sunday, December 16, 2012

QOTW 10  The moon was beautiful!  When I left school at about 5:30 PM on Friday (12/14) the sky was dark except for a little glow of leftover daylight on the southwest horizon where the sun had set earlier.  Just a few degrees above that glow the moon hung over the horizon as it followed the sun's path.  As you know, the moon goes through phases (new, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full, waning gibbous, last quarter, and waning crescent).  What phase of the moon did I see on Friday and what phase of the moon sets within an hour or two of the sun?  The same answer works for both questions!  We visited the United States Naval Observatory website when we looked at sunrise and sunset times for the year to study solstices and equinoxes and the answer to this week's question will come from a different part of the same website.  Remember to set the day to 14 and the location to Portland, Oregon.  (The photo above is a composite showing the moon phases in reverse order from waning crescent to waxing crescent.  The moon cycles through the eight phases in 29 1/2 days and displays only one phase at a time.)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

QOTW 9 Next week we will make quadrants in class.  Check this website to read about the instrument and to see its use.  Check the first sentence to answer "What was a quadrant used to measure?"

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Where is Jupiter?  Last week in class we talked about how the planets appear to move through the background stars that make up the constellations of the Zodiac.  If the weather was clear I would have a beautiful view of Jupiter against the background of what constellation of the Zodiac?  Click for and check the whole sky chart for a view of the sky.  The website will automatically enter the current time for the map of the sky.  If you don't see Jupiter in the map, reset the time to1:00 PM.  

Saturday, November 24, 2012

QOTW 7  All of this rain makes me lonesome for some stargazing.  Check this website to see what the prospects are for conditions favorable for stargazing. Scroll down the page to the section on "seeing" and tell me what causes "bad seeing."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The 1.78" of rain in ten days in 2008 was distinctly more than in the same time period during the years since then.  However, the onset of rainy weather in the fall can vary quite a bit from year to year.  Follow this link to see a state map with average annual rainfall.  What is the average annual rainfall for Portland?  for Tillamook Bay?  for Bend?  This other link will take you to a state map showing county boundaries and cities which might help you figure out where Portland, Tillamook Bay, and Bend are on the rainfall map.  Enjoy the hunt!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Congratulations to people who correctly calculated that ten-day total in 2008 as 1.78 inches of rain.  It is hard to know what 1.78" means without some context.  In the table above you can see the same ten days in 2008 through 2012.  After studying the table and the totals, do you think the 1.78" was unusually high?  Do we need more information to give a solid answer?  If so, what else should we look at?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Still thinking about that landslide.  Scott Burns, the state geologist, said there had been rain in the days before the landslide, but the chief cause was probably leaking pipes.  Go to the CoCoRaHS website and enter the information shown in the fields above to get daily precipitation amounts from a nearby rain gauge (mine, in fact).  Total up the daily reports to find the amount for the ten day period.

Monday, October 29, 2012

In the post below I mused whether my house might be at risk for a landslide.  Go to the link: 

to find out whether my house is on a steep slope and whether I have a potential landslide hazard.  Keep scrolling to check my earthquake hazard.  I hope potential buyers don't check this website.  If you're curious, you can enter your own address (if you're in the city of Portland) and discover your risks.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Six years ago this month a landslide in a neighborhood near Wilson High created a vacant lot at the top of the hill on Burlingame Place and more than $1,000,000 damage to the home that slid and the three homes at the bottom of the hill.  Hmmmmm.... I live on a hillside. I wonder if that could happen to my house?  Check this link and see if you can tell from the news report what caused the slide: Burlingame landslide

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

on the track at carpool time


Curious...Haven't seen this for a long time since we've had so little rain in August and September.  Can some eager science student tell me what the picture shows and the why behind it?

Got some great answers below.  You're right about the oil on water, but why the colors?

Monday, October 15, 2012

    On Saturday a group of students and parents from Westside came over to West Hills to do landscape and clean-up work around the campus.  We did lots of pruning and weeding, three units of bark dust were spread, the covered play area was power-washed, and we cleaned up an old mess of paint cans, cinder blocks, and jugs of used motor oil.  Big thanks to those hard-working Westsiders!
    I want to recycle the used motor oil, but I need to put it into plastic gallon milk jugs.  Since most of my family is lactose intolerant to varying degrees, we don't do much milk.  If you have any empty plastic gallon milk jugs, please bring them in to my classroom.  Looking at the load in the back of my truck I might need as many as a dozen jugs.  Thanks for your help!

Thanks for your help with the gallon jugs.  I found a place in SE Portland (Far West Fiber) that would take the used motor oil, so I don't need any more jugs.

Friday, October 12, 2012

I'm at the Oregon Google  Conference and just learned how to start a blog!!  I'm looking forward to communicating with students and parents, to doing some thoughtful reflection, and to recording observations and questions.  Incidentally, I was a lucky winner of a drawing for a $25 gift card to Best Buy!!!