Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Schools : It's Spring time ! Let's celebrate !

Serralves Park
Porto, Portugal

“The glassy pear tree leaves and blooms, they brush 
the descending blue; that blue is all in a rush 
with richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.” (...)

Gerard Manley Hopkin

On a spring morning it is a poem we can recite that makes spring seem more intensely itself.

Spring is back! Today 20 March is the first day of Spring 2018. Also known as the vernal equinoxIt may still be frosty around Portugal, but spring is officially about to start. This year, the vernal (or spring) equinox takes place today, Tuesday, March 20, 04:15 (GMT). It's spring equinox which, in the astronomical system of seasons, is the first day of spring.

I feel very happy ! Today is the 1st day of Spring and International Day of Happiness! Wow! Must be happy, right? Two wonderful days in one!

Spring Equinox 2018
doodler: Sophie Dao

Of course Google could not forget to celebrate the 1st day of spring with one of its famous doodles. I love doodles, you know that ! 

"This year’s seasonal Doodle series protagonist, Quinn, is strumming a pleasant tune to coax a mysterious creature out of hiding. With a mild breeze and beautiful flowers, would it be, could it be, spring?"

The Doodle welcomes the spring equinox, a celestial event which marks the beginning of spring in many cultures. 

This date is when day and night are around the same length, each lasting around 12 hours. It usually takes place on 19, 20 or 21 March every year. 

Fall Equinox 2018
doodler: Sophie Dao
Just following the equinox, the southern hemisphere will gradually begin to tilt away from the sun’s rays and usher in the cool, crisp autumn weather. So the opposite occurs, as autumn begins at the same time.

Origin of the word Vernal;
The word "vernal” comes from the Latin vernalis word for spring, while equinox literally means "equal night" (equi means equal and nox means night) as both night and day last for an equal amount of time.

The astronomical event marks the start of spring in the northern hemisphere, which means longer days are on the way and people around the world will celebrate fresh starts. 
The equinox happened 4.15pm (GMT). An equinox is the moment when the barrier between night and day (called the solar terminator) is perpendicular to the equator – i.e., when the sun is shining directly on the side of the planet. 

At the March equinox, the subsolar point – the border of the sun’s light – hits the equator, then moves northward. In September, at the autumnal equinox, it moves south. On the equinox, the length of daytime and nighttime is roughly the same all over the planet.

The vernal equinox marks the start of spring and a time for new beginnings, birth and fresh starts.


You know Stonehenge. On the summer and winter solstices and spring and autumn equinoxes, Stonehenge is open to visitors (and the local Druids) who want to witness the sunrise over the stones.

Stonehenge one of the wonders of the world and the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe, will be open from the start of the equinox to allow Druids and Pagans to gather and see the sun rise above the ancient stones.

Druids and Pagans will celebrate the ancient Saxon goddess Eostrea Germanic goddess of spring who symbolises fertility and new beginnings.

Similar to the symbols observed at Easter, like eggs, rabbits, new bulbs of flowers, and seedlings bursting forth from the earth, many Pagans embrace these symbols to represent the fertility of spring and incorporate them into rituals, altars, and celebratory feasts.

The word Ostara is just one of the names applied to the celebration of the spring equinox on March 20. 
Of course, it's also the same time as the Christian Easter celebration, and in the Jewish faith, Passover takes place as well. For early Pagans in the Germanic countries, this was a time to celebrate planting and the new crop season.

Celebration of equinox in Portugal
créditos: Peregrino da Luz/ Templos do Sol

A number of festivals take place around this time all over the world, dating back to ancient times.

The link with the vernal equinox is clear as it coincided with pagan celebrations of rebirth and renewal. 

The vernal celebration exists in Portugal from Ancestry

The Mayan calendar is famed for its spring equinox rituals at the stone-stepped pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico which was later significantly influenced by the Toltec civilization.

The pyramid, where human sacrifices once took place, is made in a way that a “snake of sunlight” moves down the steps on the day of the equinox. 

The day arc of the sun, every hour, during the equinox as seen on the celestial dome, from the pole. 
credits: Tau’olunga/ Wikimedia Commons


There is a difference between astronomical seasons and meteorological seasons.
  • Astronomical seasons refer to the position of Earth's orbit in relation to the sun taking into account equinoxes and solstices. 
  • Meteorological seasons are instead based on the annual temperature cycle and measure the meteorological state as well as coinciding with the calendar to determine a clear transition between the seasons.
Since the astronomical seasons vary in length, the start date of a new season can fall on different days each year. 
This makes it difficult to compare seasons between different years and resulted in the introduction of the meteorological calendar. 
This splits the calendar into four seasons of approximately the same length. The astronomical seasons run approximately three weeks later than those of the meteorological calendar.
But let's read EarthSky explanations about equinoxes.


Do you need more interesting facts to share with your students ? Spring time, equinoxes, traditions? No! You have all you need to your lesson.

Students may do some research about the several themes around Spring time. Of course, the most important is science. 

Spring at the park
credits: unknown

But literature can be very interesting as well. Select a small number of literary texts from different civilizations to include into your lessons about spring equinox.

On the spring morning, g outside a park near your school and invite your students to recite a poem they choose.

Curricula: Sciences; Languages.

Level : Primary; Secondary Education.

Teachers must adapt the activities to the level they are teaching.

Wishing all a Happy Spring!



Copyright © 2018G-Souto'sBlog, gsouto-digitalteacher.blogspot.com®

Creative Commons License
Schools : It's Spring time ! Let's celebrate ! by G-Souto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

See you Prof. Stephen Hawking at the stars !

A cartoonist's tribute to Stephen Hawking
 cartoon art by David Hayward

Stephen Hawking died today (March 14), leaving behind a massive legacy of work as an astrophysicist, science communicator, activist, and figure of pop culture admiration."

Rafi Letzter, space.com

Indeed. As a teacher, I would like to remember the physicist and brighter star Stephen Hawking as as an innovative mind, a visionary and creative mind in the field of cosmology. It's my tribute to a man who didn't give up diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 21. His courage, persistence and scientific work inspired me as global audiences in the millions. 

Stephen Hawking

"It is a waste of time to be angry about my disability. One has to get on with life and I haven't done badly. People won't have time for you if you are always angry or complaining," 

Hawking, 2005

With his courage, humour, and sapience helped me and all the teachers and practitioners to bring appealing science and humanities into school curriculum.

Curricula became more attractive for students and easier for teachers to enhance skills in formal or informal learning.

‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ 

Stephen Hawking

Oh! Yes, we love teaching, love our students and it will be difficult to be a teacher without passion. 

Prof. Hawking revolutionized completely the concept of science bringing a captivate way to talk about science following the publication of his 1988 popular science book "A Brief History of Time," his most important scientific work was behind him. 

A Brief History of Time
Stephen Hawking, 1988

"In 1988, I was a recipient of the Commander of the Order of the British Empire, for publishing my short book."

For teachers and students, it was "Hawking’s intuition and wicked sense of humour that marked him out as much as the fierce intellect that, coupled with his illness, came to symbolise the unbounded possibilities of the human mind."

Videos, conferences, books and comic books were awesome resources to include into school lessons.

And his biopic was a huge success! Students and teachers went to the theaters to watch The Theory of Everything.

Based on the 2007 memoir Traveling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen by his first wife, Jane Wilde Hawking. She has written about what it was like to fall in love with and then care for an increasingly disabled and celebrated genius.

The film had a huge impact on students. They loved the film and asked to read the book. We did an interesting cross-curricular project : Languages, Sciences, Music and Multimedia. We were very excited, teachers and students. The project was well suceded and open at the entire school staff.

Stephen Hawking
credits: Bryan Bedder/ Getty Images

As impressionable young students, it was a tremendous thrill to meet such a celebrity and renowned physicist who entered in their classroom through a speech-generating device, books, film or TV series as The Simpson or The Big Bang TheorySo exciting to students. A honour to us as teachers to bring digital resources into our lessons.

As an innovative educator since the 90's it was a joy to share my dreams and projects with my students: practicing formal learning and non formal learning.

“My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”

Stephen Hawking
Hawking's most famous paper, Black Hole Explosions?, published in 1974, 44 years, took a hatchet to the whole notion of black holes as physicists had previous understood them. And it was Hawking's first whack at that basic question.

A touching tribute to Professor Stephen Hawking 
by the Telegraph's cartoon Bob Moran

Teachers are always thinking in captivating students mind to a better school performance. So, they understood immediately how science was amazing by the voice and books of Stephen Hawking. And they did incredible experiences. And grew up to his exemple of courage and persistence.
We will miss you Prof. Hawking. But we will follow you looking up at the stars.

"Look up at the stars not, not down at your feet."

Stephen Hawking


Copyright © 2018G-Souto'sBlog, gsouto-digitalteacher.blogspot.com® 
Licença Creative Commons
See you Prof. Stephen Hawkings at the stars ! by G-Souto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

February in review & Paralympics Games 2018

The world’s eyes are once again turn to PyeongChang this week as the 2018 Paralympic games get under way! 

Paralympic champion Anna Schaffelhuber/ Germany 
Apine Skiing/ Women's Super-G Sitting
credits: PyeongChang2018

80 countries around the world sent their athletes to compete in the games, held from last Friday March 9 to 18 March. 

Marie Bochet/ Golden Medal
credits:  Luc Percival/ NPC France

"I fully share the values of the International Paralympic Committee & I am really proud to be an ambassador of its values: determination, inspiration, courage, equity which highlight the abilities of us all."

Over 670 athletes, including more female athletes than ever before, have the chance to show their skills after years of hard work and training.

Google Doodle Paralympics 2018

The lineup of the Paralympic games will include: alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice hockey, snowboarding, and wheelchair curling. 

Over the next 10 days, more than 80 medals will be awarded across the sports.

The Doodle represents athletes from each of the sports in competition, all racing together to capture a spot on the podium.

Invite your students to follow Paralympics Winter 2018 and their favourite  athletes on social media and on the official website.

Time to stop this wonderful introduction. Let's begin the rundown of the most popular posts in February.

    Here are the most popular posts of the last month:
Schools : Pyeongchang 2018 : Olympic Winter Games & resources

Schools : Let's talk : World Cancer Day ! #WeCanICan : resources

Tribute & sorrow : Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Fla.

Women in Arts : Paula Modersohn-Becker

Le Printemps des Poètes ? L'Ardeur ! Allez ! À participer !

Schools & Families : Safer Internet Day : #SID2018 ! Resources

We are all excited! Don't you?. Bandabithe Paralympic mascot, symbolic of strong and courage is very happy!

Good luck to all and let the games continue!


Copyright © 2018G-Souto'sBlog, gsouto-digitalteacher.blogspot.com®
Creative Commons License
February in review & Paralympics Games 2018 by G-Souto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.