Last Friday Laralee and I taught our first “enrichment” class of the school year. It’s nine second-graders who are considered gifted, so they get to skip an hour of reading time and come to a class we teach. Although there’s a recommended curriculum for the class, most of the topics are pretty dull. So we make up our own lessons, which is not only more fun for us (although more work) but also seems to excite the kids.

So we started with the solar system. We talked about the planets and what’s interesting about them (Venus is the hottest! Neptune has winds that blow at 1,300 mph! Uranus is flipped on its side!). The kids were so excited to learn that stuff that we’re going to do a second class this week.

I’m playing around with some software called Celestia, which I’m hoping I can figure out and get running on my laptop so we can take a “tour” of the solar system. The graphics in the program are amazing:

In addition to being cool to watch, you can move in three dimensions, through time, across space, and watch the planets spin and orbit and moons whiz around them. Awesome stuff.