Have you noticed the number of summer camps being held in our midst? We are truly fortunate our community has the interest and capability to support many approaches to engaging students and teachers during their summer months. The “camps” involve innovative approaches to the problem of keeping learning fun, safe and interesting. Summer camps range from science and invention camps to Vacation Bible School. These opportunities offer ways for our children to have a break from the routine of the school day and maintain their skills during summer vacation.
Current research in mathematics indicates, students can forget or lose the benefit of approximately one month of learning during the summer months if they spend two months without exercising this language. Research also indicates this is the one subject that seems to ignore gender, income, IQ, and ethnicity. A further month is lost at the beginning of the Fall term reviewing what has already been covered in past grades. Many camps are free, or affordable. Our offices know of some of the programs going on during the summer, so you are welcome to call us for information. The City of Las Cruces offers numerous summer programs. Many of our local schools have programs going on during the summer so a phone call to the school district or the school your children attend can also work.
It is really hot right now in Las Cruces, this time of year most of us seek the shade. Years ago I visited a house were a friend of mine built his back porch roof to meet the horizon in the summer so the sun never got into his porch. Math and science at work. The earth has an axis or imaginary line running through it from the North to the South Pole. As the earth tilts toward the sun, it gets hotter. This phenomenon is responsible for our seasons.
Our sun has now rebounded from what experts refer to as a solar minimum. The sun goes through cycles, they last on the average of eleven years. The sun has been at low magnetic activity, the lowest in a hundred years. When the sun is at a minimum, it is less able to shield the earth from cosmic rays. In fact, the amount of cosmic rays reaching the earth has been the highest they have been since measurements first began. You may know, disruptions in the solar magnetic field can disrupt GPS receivers even the electric power grid. These changes also affect the earth’s upper atmosphere. Changing levels of solar magnetic activity could change the height of the ionosphere by hundreds of miles. Right now the ionosphere is so thin it is difficult to study it. We are entering a period of solar maximum and for those who work in solar research this is an exciting time.
Consider a visit to the Sun Spot Observatory on the Sacramento Peak near Cloudcroft. The trip will not only get you out of the heat of the dessert, it will also be an opportunity to learn about of the work we do in solar research here in New Mexico. The observatory is in the Lincoln National Forest, a lovely place indeed. The directions and visitors schedule can be found at the website http://nsosp.nso.edu/pr/. There are tours and programs at the Observatory and the guides are able to keep everyone interested and it is another unique New Mexico experience. Sun Spot is part of the National Solar Observatory. There is a team of researchers in the Astronomy Department at New Mexico State University involved with NSO. If you ever have a chance to get to their evening astronomy programs, go for it. Summer observing is a great way to get young children involved in astronomy. And don’t forget, this is the department where Clyde Tombaugh and Rita Beebe taught.