|Watch the Perseids Meteor Shower in August when the night weather is warm
|People have far more in common than any differences we may perceive (real or imagined). My community service
educational work supports that understanding by not discriminating against anyone on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity,
race, color, language, handicaps, socioeconomic situation, housing status, genetics, gender, sexual orientation, age,
appearance, religion, marital status, physical and mental health, veteran classification, intelligence, politics, or anything
else; all persons are accepted as fellow human beings, and I support (and model) the Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA), enabling equal access to excellence in education. http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm
Space Rocks workshops are free to public schools and public libraries; no academic, government, business,
religious, political, or private funding is accepted; instead, please consider helping hungry and homeless people
by supporting the Amos House soup kitchen and shelters in Rhode Island www.AmosHouse.com
A ROCK TOUR WITH REAL ROCKS
We're lucky to live on the planet Earth orbiting at a distance from our star (the Sun) in the so-called 'Goldilocks
Zone': not too hot, not too cold; just right.
Pieces of planets and other solid surface bodies in our solar system often older than the oldest Earth rocks
(over 4 billion years old) are brought into schools and public libraries so that students can hold in their hands,
for 'up-close and personal' examination, specimens of: our Moon, the planet Mars, a comet nucleus, asteroids,
and some tiny chondrules (the first solid matter to accrete from the Sun's primordial solar nebula of gas and
dust). One meteorite even contains interstellar grains (stardust) blasted into space by the supernova explosion
of another star (in our galaxy) that lived and died far away and long ago before the Sun formed. Impact iridium
sediment, from an asteroid hitting the Earth 65 million years ago, and Triceratops fossils (among the last
dinosaur species at the time of that massive extinction), are included.
Inquiry science (especially meteoritics), always a work in progress because it involves so many interrelated
researchable variables, requires continual updating to include the newest knowledge and to refine meaningful
questions; this project is no exception, therefore, informed discussion of all thinking from every perspective is
respected so together we can consider what we know, as well as what we don't know, and learn from both.
|THE BEST-PRESERVED MAJOR METEORITE IMPACT CRATER ON EARTH
These are two of my photographs at "Meteor Crater" near Winslow, Arizona. The aerial shot was taken looking through
the cockpit glass of our plane circling low and slow above the crater with commercial and United States Air Force
Vietnam Veteran pilot, Capt. Jim Cook, DFC. I was glad that my friend in the left seat has over twenty-thousand flying
hours, because strong thermals rising off the high desert below us caused our aircraft to buck up and down hundreds of
feet demanding a lot of challenging hands-on piloting. We continued studying the area's dynamic geology by cruising next
over nearby extinct volcano craters (for comparison), landing on a small air strip in Marble Canyon, and then following the
eventual drainage of Canyon Diablo into the Colorado River and subsequently the Grand Canyon where we flew across
that spectacular erosion.
|IDENTIFYING A "METEOR CRATER" METEORITE IN YOUR HANDS
The scan above shows 17 rare, fragile meteoritic specimens (cut small) in clear individual boxes so that they can
be displayed inside one Riker Mount for examination with a laboratory magnifying glass. These fragments, along
with the two larger rocks and dinosaur fossils, remain on SpaceRocksWithDrLen.com educational tour throughout
the year; perhaps coming soon to a school or library near you: descriptions of the specimens that students ask
about most often are highlighted in blue.
|METEORITIC SPECIMENS RECOVERED FROM EACH OF THE 7 CONTINENTS ON EARTH
IN ONE DISPLAY SO YOU CAN HOLD THEM ALL TOGETHER FOR CAREFUL COMPARISON
(Top row, left to right): Peekskill, USA: stone meteorite that crashed right through a teenager's parked car while she was in
the house watching television; Bjurbole, Finland: stone meteorite chondrules, our solar system's oldest solid matter
(average diameter 1 millimeter), accreted from the immense cloud of gas and dust which surrounded the newly-shining
Sun and from which the planets formed; Abee, Canada: stone meteorite that research indicates may have formed within
the oxygen-starved orbit of the planet Mercury; Allende, Mexico: stone meteorite containing interstellar grains (stardust)
from the explosion of another star before our Sun was formed; Murchison, Australia: stone that tests as being from a comet
nucleus, predates our solar system and has remained virtually unchanged since, contains elements that formed in
different types of other stars, in addition also contains some kinds of amino acids not found on Earth.
(Middle row, left to right): Millbillillie, Australia: stone knocked off the asteroid Vesta (NASA's Dawn spacecraft orbited this
326-mile-wide asteroid that is smaller than the state of Arizona); Zagami, Nigeria: stone knocked off the planet Mars; Dar
Al Gani 262, Libya: stone knocked out of our Moon's highlands; Northwest Africa 032, Morocco: stone knocked from the
Moon's mare; Northwest Africa 482, Algeria: stone knocked off the Moon's far side; Thiel Mountains, Antarctica: stony-iron
meteorite found on glacier ice (easy to see against that white surface); K-T Geologic Boundary iridium metal sediment from
an asteroid impact at the extinction of Earth's dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
(Bottom row, left to right): Imilac, Chile, stony-iron meteorite found in the Atacama desert (easy to see on the dry ground);
Moldavite, Czechoslovakia: tektite Earth impact glassy material blasted up into space; Canyon Diablo, USA: Earth rock flour
pulverized by meteorite impact; Siberia, Russia: molten metal raindrop from the Tunguska Event explosion high up in the
air; Siberia, Russia: tree bark off one of the millions of Siberian Spruce trees knocked down by the Tunguska Event.
|MORE SPACE ROCKS ARE AT BROWN UNIVERSITY
|42 more specimens (not touring area schools), in the Space Rocks study collection of 60, are at the
NASA Northeast Regional Planetary Data Center on the second floor of Lincoln Field Building, main
campus, Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. SpaceRocksWithDrLen.com donations to the
university also include a piece of alloy from a space-flown Soviet Soyuz cosmonaut spacecraft;
fragment of the first U.S. space station, Skylab; tomato seeds exposed to nearly six years of space
radiation in NASA's LDEF satellite; polystyrene spheres manufactured by astronauts aboard Space
Shuttle Challenger; and a Triceratops bone fossil (one of the last dinosaur species at the
Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction). NASA resources to study the entire solar system are maintained
here for educators and students. http://www.geo.brown.edu/BrownNASADataCenter/Home.htm
65 million years ago, an asteroid, approximately six miles in diameter, hit Earth at an estimated speed of
50,000 to 100,000 miles an hour (as dramatically illustrated in this painting by artist for NASA: Don Davis).
Scientists are still researching the details of what happened and the time-frame over which they happened,
but geologic evidence indicates that a combination of natural effects killed off two-thirds to three-quarters of
all plants and animals, including the dinosaurs; school-bus-size Triceratops was one of the last dinosaur
species. Our planet vibrated like a bell being rung from impact shock waves that passed all the way around
the Earth and possibly even through it, superheated debris was thrown miles above the world and then
rained back down making the sky glow red hot while the air became fouled with poisonous gases and acid
mist, Earthquakes shook the ground and volcanoes erupted. A tsunami hundreds of feet high and moving
at hundreds of miles an hour, splashed over a huge area of North, Central, and South America. The global
climate was changed drastically, with temperatures at first becoming hotter, then dropping to freezing from
the ensuing day-and-night blackness of an "impact winter". Sunlight was blocked out for months, until the
thick haze and dust gradually settled to the surface. A specimen in the Space Rocks study collection is
iridium sediment (a metal element rare on Earth, but common in meteorites) carried in the air by the
weather after this impact and deposited worldwide at the geologic K-T Boundary layer in the ground. The
ancient impact site is the Chicxulub Crater, five miles deep and over 100 miles wide; mostly under sea and
sediment, partially overlapping land on the northwest tip of what is now the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
|THE LAST OF THE DINOSAURS
In this photograph are fossilized Triceratops fragments (Clockwise from top: tooth, rib bone, frill)
dug up by paleontologists during fieldwork in Wyoming and Montana. These pieces are displayed
in a Riker Mount so that students can hold specimens from one of the last dinosaur species on
Earth without the jagged edges crumbling and to avoid getting stone grit in their mouths or eyes.
At 7:17 A. M., June 30, 1908, above the Tunguska River in a remote area of Siberia, Russia, an
aerial explosion flattened 800 square miles of forest below, leaving 80 million trees on the
ground in a radial pattern pointing out from the center of the downward blast. This was followed
by a firestorm while black molten metal rain fell. (The old photograph above, is from Leonid
Kulik's early expeditions to the site.) There's still some debate about what happened, despite
local first-hand accounts, but it's most probable that a rock from space approximately 120 feet
across, weighing 200 million pounds, travelling at over 33,000 miles an hour, plunged into
Earth's atmosphere. At about 28,000 feet altitude, the extreme heat (44,000 degrees
Fahrenheit) of atmospheric compression caused the rock to fragment and mostly vaporize,
producing a spectacular fireball in the sky. The Space Rocks collection includes one of the
metal rain drops and a piece of bark from a spruce tree knocked down by the Tunguska Event.
|SUBJECT-RELATED EDUCATIONAL SITES
Over 400 years ago Galileo Galilei first turned his telescope toward the night sky in 1609; both
professionals and amateurs are still doing that today and some offer public viewing times.
|NASA HAS BEEN OUT IN SPACE FOR OVER 50 YEARS
|Федеральное космическое агентство
|SOME STUDENT AND TEACHER SPACE ACTIVITIES
|NASA's Dawn spacecraft orbited Vesta in the Asteroid Belt, 2011
|NASA DAWN mission, 2007-2015: One meteorite specimen in the Space Rocks study collection is a
small piece of Vesta that was knocked off into space. Many students and teachers are following Dawn's
eight-year, 3.2-billion-mile mission to the heart of the Asteroid Belt (where most meteorites originate),
because asteroids contain matter that is virtually unchanged since our solar system was forming, (and
partly because during preparations in 2006, we were given the opportunity to have our individual names
put in the spacecraft). Dawn, carrying our names, is the first space voyager to attempt orbits around two
different bodies in space: first at the brightest asteroid, Vesta, having arrived July 15 PDT, 2011 (and at
the largest asteroid, Ceres, in 2015). http://www.dawn-mission.org/index.asp
OUR NAMES ON MARS: NASA's Phoenix spacecraft traveled 422 million miles through space following
its launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on a Delta II rocket, August 4, 2007, and reached
Mars, May 25, 2008. This mission is special to me because: Phoenix touched down in the north polar
region on Mars and I've been in the ice of the north polar region on Earth, a specimen in the Space Rocks
tour collection is a Martian meteorite, plus NASA had already recorded our names (Marguerite & Dr. Len)
on board so, sort of vicariously, two retired school teachers have gotten to Mars.
STARSHINE satellites: From 1998 to 2001, I worked with students grinding and polishing metal mirrors
for three Project Starshine satellites: Starshine I was deployed by STS-96 Space Shuttle Discovery
astronauts in 1999, Starshine 2 was deployed by STS-108 Space Shuttle Endeavour astronauts in 2001,
and Starshine 3 was sent into a polar orbit on board an Athena I, the first launch by NASA from Kodiak
Island, Alaska, in 2001.
|SOME SELECTED BOOKS AND PERIODICALS
|Listed first are a few introductory astronomy and meteorite books; we don't need math or physics
backgrounds to read them. These are often available in your school library, public libraries, or
through interlibrary loan systems. If you like to highlight and underline, as I do, you can buy them in
paperback (new or used) at local and online bookstores. This will save you money and also save
you from librarian angst because you won't be writing in a borrowed copy. (Always look for the very
latest edition, as new scientific learning is added during revisions.)
Astronomy: A Beginners Guide to the Universe by Eric Chaisson and Steve McMillan; Prentice Hall,
Upper Saddle River, N.J.: http://wps.prenhall.com/esm_chaisson_BG4/1,7633,695393,.html
Meteorites by Robert Hutchison & Andrew Graham. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. New York, N.Y.
Rocks From Space: Meteorites and Meteorite Hunters by O. Richard Norton. Mountain Press
Publishing Company, Missoula, Montana.
Sky & Telescope Observer's Guides: Meteors by Neil Bone; Series Editor, Leif J. Robinson. Sky
Publishing Corporation, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The astronomy periodicals, listed next, contain splendid color photographs and, as with the books
above, don't require a math and physics background. They are usually available in public libraries
and bookstores or by subscription. You may also find them in your school's library or through
Astronomy magazine: www.astronomy.com
Sky & Telescope magazine: http://skyandtelescope.com
|Comet Hale-Bopp observed from Earth: NASA
|SOME OF MY FAVORITE SCIENCE EDUCATORS
|Dr. Stephen Hawking: Professor Hawking writes both technical and popular books about science and has
a worldwide following. I went to meet him, before an evening lecture in 1999, as I admire his intellect. I
came away from our meeting inspired by his humanity because, during that day, he'd been visiting patients
in Boston Children's Hospital, as a role model for not giving up. His website at Cambridge University is:
Dr. Carl Sagan: The late Professor Sagan actively shared his diverse interests with the general public, as
well as with his students at Cornell University. I enjoyed reading his books, watching him on television,
and found such energy in his enthusiasm for education. In the middle of his 1980 Cosmos T.V. series on
PBS, I wrote to him; he was kind enough to reply with a detailed letter. In the following quotation, he calls
our attention, scientifically, to the fact that human beings have more in common than differences: "Every
person on Earth shares 99.9 percent of the same DNA sequences." The memorial website devoted to
his multifaceted work is: http://www.carlsagan.com/
Dr. Eric Chaisson: Professor Chaisson's best-selling astronomy textbook (listed above) is available in an
edition for math and physics students and an edition for the general reader. To conclude a 1982 guest
lecture that I attended, he took questions from the audience. I felt self-conscious, as an education major,
because I worried that students majoring in science, and their faculty, might find my question rather
pedestrian, so I made it as scientifically succinct as possible. Not only did he respond to my query about
the nature of the universe, but first he honored me by explaining my question to everyone else. His website
at Harvard University is: https:www.cfa.harvard.edu/
Lately, I've been trying to follow the work of physicists Dr. Lisa Randall and Dr. Brian Cox at CERN, where
the Higgs Boson has been discovered and where they seek to explain the universe in detail.
|CIVIL AIR PATROL VOLUNTEER SERVICE LEARNING
|My air-to-air photograph of a Rhode Island Wing T-41; it's really that close!
|"Citizens Serving Communities." In the U.S. Civil Air Patrol you can study aerospace
education, plus actively participate in search and rescue, disaster relief, homeland security,
and humanitarian missions, as well as other aviation-related activities. For more
information log onto the National Headquarters website at: www.gocivilairpatrol.com We
are the men and women of the volunteer civilian United States Air Force Auxiliary where you
serve locally, fly free, and get a new view of your home state. No matter where you are in
this country, there's a wing or squadron (and you don't have to be a pilot to join).
Also, check out the Teacher Orientation Program and our Cadet Program offering youth,
ages 12 to 18, a healthy lifestyle of "better things to do than drugs" and the chance to be
positive role models for young children. Civil Air Patrol: "Above and Beyond."
|Close-up of our Moon by the Apollo 17 astronauts after picking up lunar samples: NASA
ABOUT ME ( I want to know why I want to know.)
My best teachers over the years (some with dogged determination), taught me how to learn; I didn't always
appreciate it immediately, but would eventually. I began Kindergarten as a timid student and reluctantly
trudged through 13 years of public school. After serving honorably on active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard
(International Ice Patrol; once right over the Titanic sinking site), I was eligible for educational funding of
veterans under the G. I. Bill, but what college would ever want 'me'? Fortunately, my home state of Rhode
Island had just opened a new community college where an apparently adventurous administrator actually
accepted me into the world of higher education; little did she know how long I'd stay in that world.
As the first person in my family to go to college and only the second one fortunate enough to even graduate
from high school (just barely), I was in an exciting new environment. However, if it weren't for a
combination of scholarship and fellowship financial assistance, tuition waivers, several graduate
assistantships, adaptable on-campus and off-campus employment, United States government-guaranteed
loans, and that G. I. Bill which started it all, I'd have been another in our long familial line of mill workers
(men and women who, after work, read books from their local public libraries).
I absolutely loved my 23 years as a full-time and part-time college student earning an A.A. at the
Community College of Rhode Island (where I first started to learn how to learn), B.A., B.S., and M.A.T.
degrees from Rhode Island College, plus a University of Connecticut Ph.D. in education, reinforced by
some national honor societies, encouragement from my wife (a school teacher for 31 years), and our
children (I hope). In addition, I served as a Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla Commander, became a Lt.
Colonel in Civil Air Patrol aerospace education, and in my spare time planned tours of Civil War historic
sites around the country and made Zen rock gardens.
With a doctorate in my pocket, I felt free to study any subject on my own, partly because I chose to, but
more importantly because I knew how to. At last, I appreciated having been taught 'how to learn' by my
best teachers along the way. In addition, one of my own graduate students pointed out (tactfully) that by
then I had more letters 'after' my name than there are 'in' my name.
Everything interests me, so I considered every possibility in developing a community service postdoctoral
project through which I could continue studying indefinitely and at the same time ‘give back’ by
encouraging public school students to enjoy learning. I'd always found astrophysics and space exploration
fascinating; going into space was science fiction when I was a kid, but during the years I'd been in school
it had moved to the forefront of active science, so I launched (metaphorically, albeit enthusiastically) into
study of those pieces of our solar system that I could actually get at because they fall from the sky.
Through the generous assistance of two international meteorite specialists, I was able to purchase, one by
one, a comprehensive collection of sixty small-size meteoritic specimens to examine and hand around to
students during school and library workshops. Of course, I couldn't study meteorites very long without
exploring (metaphorically again) asteroids, comets, planets, moons, dust, impacts and DINOSAURS!
At the same time as I was hitting the books (the last clichéd-metaphor; I wouldn't really hit a book because
I like them so much), I earned an FCC license to produce and host my own public radio educational talk
shows and classical music programs for four years (and got to change my name), worked for six years as
a photographer and was a Student Teaching Supervisor, Cooperating Teacher, Visiting Lecturer and
Adjunct Professor in education at a college and two universities in three states for over twenty years.
However, I found teaching college to be not nearly as intellectually stimulating as being a college student.
Now, as a volunteer educator (retired teacher), I bring space rocks and dinosaur fossils to schools,
libraries and other centers of lifelong learning so that we can study them together. Additionally, I share
some social comments about living.
-We can all learn much more at our public library; in the United States, knowledge is free to everyone.
-We are responsible for what we do, and sometimes for what we do not do.
-Only a fool wants to hear just his own ideas repeated back to him.
-We can't use our brains on drugs; that's why it's called dope.
-Without integrity, we have no credibility.
-Hate hurts, both ways.
-We can do better.
|CLIPPINGS (L-R): Len with the wrong dinosaur, and perched
on the edge of "Meteor Crater" before falling over backwards.
Thank you for visiting my website. If you need a copy of my curriculum vitae for your school or
library files, or have questions and comments that you'd like to share, please e-mail me and
I'll respond promptly. I hope to see you in class or at a local library soon. Take care, Dr. Len
Marguerite & Dr. Len also present My Dog Shag school and library read-aloud workshops in which elementary school
students illustrate free copies of their children's book to take home. They're also the authors of Tell Me About My School
and wrote the parents' foreword for Tell Me About My First Plane Trip as well as the parents' primer in Spelling Bee; all
three published by Pockets of Learning for early childhood education.
If you'd like to print out your own free e-book copy of My Dog Shag, right from your personal computer, you can download it
now by clicking: My Dog Shag PDF Oct 2011
Shown here are two bare rocks, on the ground, that students examine during a Space Rocks workshop using basic
science skills (plus our physical senses) to determine which is a space rock and which is an Earth rock. These
specimens can be easily compared by weighing them on a gram scale, lowering each into a graduated cylinder to
measure water displacement, looking at them under a magnifying glass, holding a small magnet on a string next to
them, feeling them with your hands, smelling them with your nose, and tapping them on a lab table to hear if they
sound different. (It's safer that we not use our sense of taste for checking out unfamiliar substances.) Extensive
ongoing research estimates that "Meteor Crater" was formed when a huge meteoritic mass, more than 130 feet
wide, weighing over 100,000 tons, traveling through the air at more than 35 times the speed of sound, slammed into
the hard desert and violently disintegrated. (For velocity comparison, NASA's Space Shuttles flew at Mach 25.) The
meteorite was named after nearby Canyon Diablo and its impact site is called the Canyon Diablo Crater or Barringer
Crater by meteoriticists, but we find it on the Internet under its popular name at: http://www.meteorcrater.com/
Hubble Space Telescope photograph of Mars: NASA
Down on the ground, my picture on the right is the view across the crater, rim-to-rim. Dr. David Roddy, USGS, guided us
among the boulders ejected by the meteorite impact and taught us to eat Popsicles when we got back to indoors air
conditioning, yet after hours out in the sun I looked like a French Fry and felt like a refried bean. Our field trip went well,
other than the day that I lost my footing while perched at the edge of the crater and fell over backwards protecting my
camera. Despite a bones-on-stones rib separation that I still remember in damp weather, I managed to laugh it all off (at
least in front of witnesses) until I could get to a chiropractor. Over 150 impact craters around the world have been
documented so far, but this one is the first-identified and best-preserved major impact crater on Earth; most of the others
are extensively eroded from millennia of weathering. After 49,000+/-300 years, this crater remains approximately 4,100
feet wide and 570 feet deep, with a fine visitors center and museum right beside it for you to appreciate in person. Nearly
three decades prior to our visit, the late Dr. Roddy had trained NASA astronauts here (most of them without stumbling or
fumbling a camera) before their Apollo missions to gather geologic specimens in impact craters on the Moon.
The PDF workshop and scavenger hunt handouts listed next were written by Dr Len and
are not copyrighted: students, teachers, and librarians may download and print them for
educational use; please just give credit where appropriate.
SPACE ROCKS WEBSITE
PIECES OF OUR SOLAR SYSTEM
If you're new to my Website, I designed it as one continuous web page using Microsoft Office Student and Teacher Edition,
plus Yahoo SiteBuilder, so that you can easily scroll down through all the photographs and text (displayed for online reading
against a subdued plain background, with margins, on desktop and laptop computer monitors). The Space Rocks project is
described first, then there's a litany of links in Subject-related education websites, after all that is a brief blurb about me.
Since 1987, it's been encouraging to work with thousands of enthusiastic interested and interesting students, teachers,
librarians, members of Civil Air Patrol and other organizations of life-long learning from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts,
New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont as we've studied together during Space
Rocks workshops. As of 2014, my presentations are mostly local (I'm in Rhode Island); sites farther away require advanced
Our solar system has been likened to a pinball machine because some of its objects 'bump' (often with
considerable force) into each other. These 'impacts' may cause moving rocks in space to change course (similar
to the equal and opposite reactions of the ricocheting ball in the machine), however unlike the game's steel ball,
and depending upon the angle and force of impact, pieces of rocky planets, moons, asteroids, and meteoroids may
'bounce' off in different directions, some even eventually reaching Earth (and other solar system bodies) as
meteorites. The Astronomy that falls from the sky link (above) offers a succinct introduction (either here online or
as a printout to keep) so that you'll have well-thought out comments and probing questions to ask during a Space
Rocks workshop. Public libraries often have available asteroid and meteorite videos to borrow as well as
computers online to use in the library for Internet research (plus all those books on the shelves and through
|Students interested in Space Rocks workshops are requested to click the Astronomy that
falls from the sky link (next) and read the introductory contents in preparation. If you'd like
to join the summer 2014 meteorite scavenger hunt, scroll all the way to the bottom of this
main web page for a list of PDF files.
The 18 specimens pictured and described in detail below, Triceratops fossils, Triceratops model, a
chalcopyrite Earth rock, magnifying glass and lab magnet, bulletin board display pictures, study
handouts, plus color printed certificates of participation are all provided at no cost to students,
teachers, schools and publicly-supported free libraries open to all men and women, boys and girls.
|YOU CAN HOLD METEORITES FROM THE MOON AND MARS
AT FREE WORKSHOPS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND PUBLIC LIBRARIES