Thursday, April 12, 2012

Solar System Science Project

We are currently learning about planets and studying images from the Hubble space craft in science class. I never anticipated that it would turn into a lesson on creation and our Heavenly Father. My son says to me as we are studying an image of space showing dozens and dozens of galaxies, “How did they all get there?” Indeed!!! I had to explain to him that each galaxy had the potential to have many solar systems just like Earth’s. He didn’t realize just how big a galaxy was or that our own galaxy has innumerable solar systems that some estimate in the millions or billions!!! Each system could potentially hold planets with conditions like Earth’s. Absolutely incredible fact on its own…and here we were looking at an image sent back from Hubble of numerous galaxies, of which millions of billions of solar systems potentially existed on each! It really boggles the mind.

My son says to me at this point, matter of factly, that he just doesn’t understand how anyone can believe that there is no God, no creator. When we consider all that makes up the universe, and the fact that there is no perceivable beginning or end to it, to assume that there wasn’t a creator seems foolish. It is as though you can see God at work forming the stars from within clouds of gaseous nebulas emanating the most beautiful colors and designs! You think the Grand Canyon is majestic, if only we could sit at the foot of a Nebula!

To further help my son understand the enormity of the size of space, we conducting a project. We rolled out a package of paper towels, letting each sheet equal the value of two AU (Astronomical Unit), which is about the distance between the Earth and the Sun, and he then drew the relative locations of the sun and all our solar systems planets. He understood that Mars and Venus were far away, but when he drew their relative locations and then the locations of further planets like Neptune and Uranus, he got a whole new perspective on the immense size of our solar system and galaxy.

When I saw the light bulb go on in his head I knew he had developed a whole new appreciation for his own existence, and the existence of our God. Amazing lesson which reinforced my appreciation for homeschooling!

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