Monday, January 18, 2010

Walking the Solar System: Audio Tour

I’m not even going to get into not updating the blog very much lately, that is a whole other blog post. I did want to tell you about a project that I have been working on. In 2008 a scale model of the solar system was installed in downtown Kansas City. Last year I received a small grant that allowed all of the seventh graders at South Valley Middle School to visit. It consists of eight foot tall stanchions with information about each of the planets and 3D images and tactile models. Before taking my students on the tour last year I created an audio tour that included additional science information as well as other subjects and Kansas City History. After taking the students on the tour last year I realized there were a couple mistakes and a few places where the audio tour could be improved. I recently finished the revamped audio tour. I worked with a professional writer and narrator to create a completely revamped audio tour. I also created a website and teacher’s guide to accompany the audio tour. Below is the link to the Walking the Solar System Audio Tour website. I would love to know your thoughts about the website, teacher’s guide or audio tour.

Walking the Solar System Audio Tour Website:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Florissant Fossil Beds

Today I went for my second hike in Colorado. I have wanted to go to the Florissant Fossil Beds for a while so today I took the hour drive out to Florissant. It was absolutely worth the drive and the six miles I put in on the trails. Today was my longest hike to date but it felt great, even if I am a little tired now. Florissant is home to a petrified redwood forest. I’ve seen petrified wood before, even some big pieces but these things were amazing. Many of them were over 10 foot tall and over 10 foot wide. I started out the day by taking a one mile loop around that went by many of the fossilized stumps. Then I took two other trails for another five miles of hiking. It was gorgeous! Mountain views, meadows, huge boulders, and babbling brooks (okay so they were barely a trickle but still cool. One of the things that amazed me the most was the sound of the wind. It made this eerie sound that I had never heard before. Then walking across a meadow I saw the wind pushing the tall grass around and it really looked like the ocean with waves of grass. If you are ever near Florissant, I encourage you to stop by. The entry fee is a whole $3 and even if you don’t have much time, you can see three huge petrified stumps with almost no walking, then another 4-6 with a one mile, easy walk. I can’t wait to get to San Francisco to see the living redwoods at Muir Woods.


I have used Skype before and was amazingly impressed with its performance. Last night I saw how amazingly cool it could be. In March I was able to teach my science class from Colorado using Skype. Last night my friend Bobby read a book to his daughter who has been in Hawaii for the last two weeks. How amazing is it that in real time they could interact over a book. I need to get some friends who live out of town so that I can Skype with them.

On another Skype note, last month Eric Langhorst, social studies teacher extrordinaire from South Valley Junior High, wrote an article for The School Library Journal about using video conferencing in the classroom. I am mentioned in the article and in the print version is a picture of me teaching from Colorado. It is the picture from this blog where I have the computer in front of me and I am wearing the glove from a space suit. You can read the article at:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hiking Garden of the Gods

Cathedral rock and the Moon

Today I spent a few hours hiking around Garden of the Gods. I think I went about 4 miles. I’m not exactly sure how far because I got turned around a couple of times and had to backtrack. It was a beautiful walk and I got some great pictures. I saw a ton of birds, lots of rabbits and one deer. Tomorrow I will be going to Florissant to walk around the fossil beds up there. I’m not exactly sure what all is there but it sounds like there is a petrified forest as well as some dinosaur stuff. It will be a pretty drive to get there and then a couple of miles of walking around. Today my wife was in a Space Foundation class learning about lunar and Mars bases. I can’t wait to pick here brain tonight. We are staying with some good friends and last night Bobby, one of the Space Foundation teachers, had a great conversation about space lessons for next year. He had a great idea that I can’t wait to investigate more involving Galilean telescopes and a project for kids to work on. Enjoy the pictures.

My resting spot after hiking more than 2 miles.

Falcon flying above the rock formations, I happened to capture this picture as he passed between me and the moon.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I’m hooked. Last night I went on my first geocaching adventure and had a blast. I had never used my GPS in this way and wasn’t sure if it would work. I completely went out not expecting to find anything. Comet and I headed over to Stocksdale Park and started down the trail. The only problem that I had was that kept having to refresh the GPS to see my coordinates. I completely lost track of time and we walked a long way. About the time I thought I was getting close, the trail would change directions. Finally we got really close (I was actually able to get to the exact coordinates) and I started looking around. The hint was that the cache was less than 10 feet off the trail. I wasn’t sure how accurate my GPS was so I started looking around. At almost exactly the right spot, I found it. It was well hidden, you would not see it if you weren’t specifically looking for it. The cache was a black ammunition box. Inside were two ziplock bags, one with a log book and pencils and the other with some small trinkets. There was a ball, a pencil with a rabbit topper, an army man, and some Garbage Pail Kids. I used to collect those so that it what I took. I left a space pin. I signed the log book, re-hid the cache and started back out of the woods. When I finally got out of the woods, I realized that had I gone in the left hand entrance to the trails, the walk would have been around ¼ of a mile. As it was, we went closer to 4. There is another cache near there that I am planning on going and looking for today.

Do you see the cache?
Do you see it now?

Comet with the cashe, and log book.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Last Day of Summer School and First Day of Summer

Teaching summer school isn’t that bad, it just delays the start of your summer vacation a few weeks. Tomorrow will start my “official” summer break. I can’t wait. I have a ton of stuff to do and the extra time to get it done will be nice, especially with a big trip coming up. I am also hoping to spend some time with a new activity that I have known about for a long time but am going to try for the first time tonight (Insert your own joke here). I’m going to try my hand at geocaching tonight. Geocaching is basically hiking with a purpose. People have hidden small caches of items. Some are easy to get to and others are more difficult. I will be starting tonight with a couple of easy ones at Stocksdale Park in Liberty. Basically you use a GPS to find the exact coordinates for where the loot is hidden. You write your name in the log book and then you can take an item if you leave an item. I will probably be taking some type of small space related item that I got at the National Space Symposium. If you would like to look into geocaching, you can register on their site for free They offer a premium membership which I may eventually do but the free membership allows you to get the coordinates for your searches. I will post an update soon of how my hunt goes tonight. I’m also taking the dog so that could also prove entertaining.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Library Thing

I am always on the lookout for cool gadgets and this is my new favorite. I think there are several others like it but this was the first on that I found. I like to share with my kids what books I’m reading, whether it be a book for school, or one that I’m reading for fun. I have tried in the past to add a list of books that I’m reading, and that I want to read to my web site and it is always a hassle to keep it updated. That’s where “Library Thing” comes in. This is a site that for free (up to 200 books) allows you to keep a list, add comments, and rate the books. The other cool thing is that it matches you with people with similar reading lists. The part that I like the best is that I was able to add a widget to this blog that shows the covers of those books. I think this is a great visual way to show how important reading is, no matter what you are reading. As a matter of fact, the reason I discovered this was because it was on another blog I was reading and one of the covers on their list was a book that I have been wanting to read. I want to explore this more and take some time to look into the book lists of others. Check out my list to the left but keep in mind I've only been playing with this for a day so I need to add more books.

Dear Mr. Kelsey Blog

After messing up this blog earlier today, I have managed to make quite a few updates to my Dear Mr. Kelsey blog. If you haven’t been there before, head over there and check it out. This is where I am attempting to post the letters I have received from celebrities. Today I inadvertently posted a bunch of posts that were meant for the Dear Mr. Kelsey blog to this one instead. The good news is I learned something new on blogger, you can import and export posts between blogs. I figured there had to be a way to do it but today I learned how. Here is the address for the Dear Mr. Kelsey blog. I will try to update it more this summer as I scan the letters. Right now I have over 250 letters to students. I have a lot posted on the blog but there are always more to add.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Return to Posting . . . Hopefully

I have been absent from the blog scene for a while now. Last year, my first at South Valley Middle School, was an unbelievable whirlwind. It was a phenomenal year, probably one of the best of my career. I loved being able to focus on science and really create some fun lessons. It was a huge change to teach the same thing four times in a row but I found that this allowed me to make changes to lessons, and really have a good idea of what worked and what didn’t. This was definitely a change from the one and done mentality of elementary school. It was also nice to be able to spend time creating a lesson and know that I got to use it four times, instead of having to wait four years to do a lesson that many times. I am looking so forward to next year to try some new things, and go into the year having a better understanding of what middle school is all about. I already have some plans for beginning of the year activities, what my expectations will be, and some new projects for later in the year.

Broadcasting was also a blast to teach. I had 150 kids go through broadcasting this year and we never missed a deadline for a show. Each week, all year long we had a show on the air, even the week I was in Colorado. We had some amazing things happen for us this year. We had interviews with a Harlem Globetrotter, Author Darren Shan, John Walsh host of America’s Most Wanted, and Baseball Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr. We also covered a rally for VP candidate Joe Biden, and two of my kids got to shake his hand. We won several awards at the Reel Spirit Student Showcase and presented at the Capitol in Jefferson City.

This summer has been just about as busy as the regular school year. I have been teaching summer school (only 3 days left) and started the last two classes of my second master’s degree. I am also helping coach t-ball with my best friend and his son (this can also be read: I am now officially a cat herder). My wife and I are planning a HUGE trip this summer and I am looking so forward to that. I will be posting often from the road (hopefully tethering my Blackberry to the laptop will work as well on the road as it did the other day when I tested it).

We are going to be gone about 4 weeks this summer and we have some great places that we are going. We start out in Colorado Springs, where my wife gets to take a free Space Discovery Institute class from the Space Foundation. This will be her 6th class. She got this one for free because she was named a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison this year. I will not be taking this class, instead I will be doing some hiking around Colorado Springs. I will probably spend a day in Garden of the Gods, and I am planning on driving over to the Florissant Fossil Beds. There are also several other parks in the area that I want to hit.

After the week in Colorado Springs, we will be on the road for the next 21 days. My best friend is getting married in Jackson, Wyoming on the first of August so we are making a big loop through Los Angeles, San Francisco, and then to Jackson. I am really excited about a lot of the stops on the way. We will be going through a bunch of National Parks including: Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Capital Reef, Mojave National Preserve, Point Reyes, Muir Woods, The Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and Golden Gate Park. We will also hit Goblin Valley State Park, this is where they filmed some scenes for Galaxy Quest. I’m excited about going to Donner State Park where the Donner Party made their winter camp. My wife is less excited about this. We also have a tour scheduled to tour the Jet Propulsion Lab and we will visit Ames Research Center, both in California. We also have several zoos and aquariums on our list as well as a couple of days at Disneyland. I’m also hoping to catch the taping of a TV show while in LA. Right now we have tickets to see Craig Furguson but we are hoping to get tickets to Conan O’Brian (it is a lottery) or maybe even The Price is Right.

I will be updating as we go this summer, and hopefully bringing back some resources to use in my classroom next year. If you have any suggestions, especially for science (or just cool) places to stop I would love to hear them.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Walking Tour of the Solar System

Several months ago I wrote a Target Field Trip Grant for the seventh grade at SVMS to visit a walking tour of the Solar System. This is a one ten billionth scale model of the solar system starting with the Sun at 13th and Baltimore and ending with the Voyager spacecraft at Union Station. To help make this tour as good as possible (imagine 90 seventh graders walking in downtown Kansas City with nothing to occupy their attention) I created an audio tour to listen to as we walked the entire length of the tour. The audio tour ended up being 15 tracks long ranging in run time from three minutes to a little over eight. They included a lot of information about each planet and they included a lot of real NASA audio of launches, moonwalkers, and a couple from astronauts that I recorded while I was at the National Space Symposium. The tracks also included Kansas City history. My brother helped write the scripts for these sections. It was amazing what I learned while putting this together. I am my own worst critic. Having said that, there are a few things that I would change. The second half of the tour was pretty good. The tracks flowed well and timed out about right for each stop. The first half of the tour was a little rougher. The tracks were too long and need to be fixed. My brother and I are planning on revamping it this summer. Here are a few pictures from the tour as If you would like to download the tracks they are available by going to my classroom website. Click on the Solar System Tour link. If you do download it and especially if you walk the tour, send me an email and let me know what you think.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Space Symposium Final Report

Sorry for the delay in posting the final details of the Space Symposium but it ended up being a hectic end to the week. I think for this post I’m going to start at the end and work my way backwards. I got back to Kansas City around 11:00 on Saturday. I left Colorado Springs on Friday night because of predicted snow coming in. They were predicting anywhere between 3 and 10 inches of snow. I had driven through slick roads and significant snow earlier in the week and didn’t want to have to do that on the way back to Kansas City.

Friday was a field trip for teacher liaisons to Boulder and NOAA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. This is where the National Weather Service for the Denver area is located, the National Space Weather Prediction Center, and Science on a Sphere. There is also a ton of scientific research about the atmosphere done here. Our tour started with going through security and then into the main building. The Knight also made the trip with me. An interesting fact about NOAA is that the national atomic clock is kept. When you buy a clock that sets itself, it is getting the signal from this building in Boulder, Colorado.

If you look closely, you can see the Knight in this picture.

Our first stop on the tour was at the Space Weather Prediction Center. This is where they constantly monitor the sun for solar flares, sun spots, and other anomalies. Space weather is important because it affects satellites, people that are on the space station, and causes the northern lights.

Monitors in this room always have a current picture of the sun.

Our next stop on the tour was at the National Weather Service. There were two main meteorologists who each had four different computer monitors and several additional ones nearby. One meteorologist is in charge of the short term forecast. He works mainly on what is going to happen in the next 24 hours. The other meteorologist works on the seven day forecast. They were very busy the day that we were there because of the incoming snow storm. One of the coolest things about the computers that they were working with is that they are so powerful they can look at multiple sets of data and overlap them to see what the weather is doing. For example, they can look at specific temperatures at locations within a few kilometers of each other. They can then overlap wind speed, or barometric pressure at those same locations. In order to accomplish all of these things, they need some high powered computers. We got to see their “super” computer. In 1992 it was the 8th fastest in the world. It is able to do trillions of calculations each second. It lives in a climate controlled room. Another interesting thing that I learned is that the National Weather Service has their own website where you can put in your zip code and look up TONS of weather data for your area. The address is:

Meteorologist at the National Weather Service

The main reason that we came to NOAA was to see Science on a Sphere. You walk into this room and literally there is a living globe floating in the middle of the room. The video I put below does not come anywhere close to doing justice to how amazing this is. Basically they take all of the data from weather satellites and other sources and put it together into models that they then project onto the sphere using 4 separate video projectors. It is flat out amazing. They have over 200 data sets that they can project including Jupiter, Neptune, the moon, and satellite weather data. One of the cooler things that they showed us was current weather data. When I say current, it literally had data from the previous day. We were able to see the blizzard that hit Denver last weekend and the storm coming in. Some of the other simulations they showed included the Asian tsunami, and all of the air traffic around the world. That one was really cool because it showed day and night and the flights slowed down around midnight local time and then starts up again around 6:00 in the morning. I wish there was a science on a sphere closer so that we could go and see it. One other thing about the science on the sphere, it is controlled by a wii remote.

3D Simulation of the Earth on Science on a Sphere

Video Compilation of Science on a Sphere (World at Night, Tsunami, Weather, Air Traffic)

Taking another step backwards, Thursday was an interesting day. I attended a space career fair. I’m not looking for a new job, I just wanted to see what employers are looking for in future employees. I expected them to say that they needed people that were good with math, science, and technology. They did say those things but they also said some stuff that I was not expecting. For example, Space X said that they were looking for people that had a high degree of responsibility and autonomy. They want people that aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and that were able to work independently. Other companies said they were looking for people with ethics and integrity. One company said a line that I thought was really great. The company representative said, “we can train you technically – we can’t teach enthusiasm. We are looking for ‘spark’.” It was really interesting to see all of these companies that are truly in need of highly qualified employees. One company said that right now 1/3 of their employees are eligible to retire. NASA is in the same position; many of the people that helped NASA get to the moon, and start the space shuttle program are either retired, or ready to retire. Another big idea that I got from listening to these people talk was that no matter what you like to do, there is a job for you. Literally any job you can think of, someone in the space industry needs you.

After the job fair, there was a small luncheon. The main speaker was Anousheh Ansari, the first female space tourist. She was really interesting to listen to and she talked about education quite a bit. She also said some things about achieving your dreams. Check back to this post later, I have audio from here speech that I will be posting later.

Me with Anousheh Ansari, first female space tourist

Thursday afternoon I got to see a couple of really interesting speeches. The first was a panel discussion between the heads of the Chinese, Japanese, and European space agencies. It was really cool to see these rivals interact with one another. Today (Sunday) there was a launch of a satellite from North Korea. One of the questions asked was if these countries would be willing to cooperate with the North Koreans on space travel. There was a very awkward silence about that question. After the panel discussion I was able to get the autograph of Jean-Jacques Dordain, head of the European Space Agency.

Overall, the Space Symposium was an absolutely amazing event. It was really cool to be in the audience with generals, astronauts, and congressman and just be one of the crowd. All of the teachers had a great experience. My thanks go out to Bobby Gagnon, Bryan DeBates, Ian Probert, and Elliott Pulham of the Space Foundation. They put on a great event and even though education was not the main focus of the Space Symposium, it was definitely a major component. An especially huge thanks to Bobby, Brian, Chrys, and Lisa. I know they all worked their tails off this week and it was completely worth it!

Also, congratulations to Kayla for winning the first contest from the blog. She emailed me today and told me that she had been reading my updates. She will be getting a prize after spring break. Here is another chance. If you have read this post, and are a SVMS student, and email me you will get a prize.

Okay, I know that this is a long post but I had a chance to write down some of the big ideas I gained from the Space Symposium. I don’t really know a better way to do this than to just list them. Some of them are teaching ideas, some of them are ideas for students. They are all kind of jumbled together so bear with me.
· Rick Soria, the teacher that won the Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award said during his speech an idea that I thought was great. He said, “when you go fishing are you going to use bait that you like, or bait that the fish like?”
· JPL (the Jet Propulsion Laboratory) want to get the American public to share in the inspirational adventure of space exploration. I thought that was a cool mission statement.
· Voyager 1 is currently 10 BILLION miles away and is still sending back signals. These signals take 14 hours to get back to earth.
· You can follow JPL on twitter.
· There are people that work at JPL that have spent their entire careers studying one of Saturn’s rings. Talk about specialization!
· The Mars Science Lab will launch in 2011, it is a nuclear powered rover the size of a small car that weighs almost a ton.
· The DAWN mission will visit Vesta in 2011 and Ceres in 2015.
· So far there have been 343 exoplanets discovered (planets outside our solar system). The Kepler mission will look for earth size planets by looking at 100,000 stars for 4 years.
· Space missions are selected from proposals and one of the components that is used in selection is the educational aspect, how they are going to educate the public about the mission and how the information gained will be used for education.
· There is one accident for every 60 flights into space.
· General Ed Eberhart said that, “we can’t be adverse to risk. It’s not easy, it’s never going to be easy.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Space Symposium Day 3

Our traveling knight next to a (from left to right) a piece of foam from the external tank of the space shuttle, a piece of metal from the external tank (front), and exploding nut that holds the shuttle to the ground for a few seconds before liftoff, and a space shuttle tile.

Teaching a lesson back to South Valley Middle School from the Space Foundation booth at the National Space Symposium.

Today was a little less hectic than yesterday but it was still pretty amazing. The morning started by watching a big panel discussion between 5 former commanders of the US Space Command. There were 5 generals on stage and one Admiral. They talked about their time in the military and what they accomplished at Space Command. General Ed Eberhart was the commander of NORAD on September 11th. I was hoping to stick around after their talk to get a chance to meet them but I had to get to the exhibit hall to teach the lessons back to South Valley. For today’s lessons I was able to get an actual food tray from the Space Shuttle along with some samples of the food. These were actual samples that were to go up but had expired. I also got a small swatch of space suit material that showed all of the different layers that go into it. And finally, I got a real Apollo era space suit glove. The first lesson I taught while over in a corner of the convention hall. The second lesson I got permission to actually sit at the Space Foundation booth. There were probably over 100 people that walked by as I taught including generals and probably some astronauts. After teaching the two lessons, I had to drive to Denver to take my wife to the airport. She will be back in Kansas City at 9:45 tonight. On the way back from Denver I drove through a pretty good snow storm. There is more snow predicted for later in the week. I’m hoping that our field trip on Friday to NOAA doesn’t get cancelled.

Oh, and one more thing from today, I saw Bill Nye, the Science Guy, walking around the exhibit hall. He looks just like he does on TV. I’m hoping to get a picture with him tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Astronaut Videos

Space Suit Video

This is a short video made of still pictures of my wife putting on the Apollo space suit. The last two pictures are of her trying to get out of the suit.

Space Symposium reaches out to the next generation

This is a link to a news story about the Teacher Liaison workshop. For a brief second you can see Sarah's head. My groups lander didn't work so well. The astronauts (marshmallows) kept getting flung out, not good if you are an astronaut.

To watch the story, scroll down and click on "Space Symposium reaches out to the next generation"

Space Symposium Day 2 – Teacher Liaison Workshop Day

My brain is mush, I’m tired and I absolutely can’t wait to teach lessons back to Liberty tomorrow, and in my classroom after spring break. We knew that today was going to be really cool and it absolutely lived up to its billing. We started the day with the deputy director of the Jet Propulsion Lab, Lt. General Gene Tattini, talking to us. He walked us through a bunch of different things that JPL does including some of their 19 current mission, and some of their upcoming missions. One of the most exciting missions that he talked about will be launched in 2011. It is the Mars Science Lab. It will weigh close to a ton and will travel distances measured in kilometers, not just meters. It truly is the size of a small car and will not rely on solar panels, it will have its own plutonium powered nuclear generator. That will be a fun mission to follow. Also as an update, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers that were originally supposed to last for three months, are now going on 5 years of service. Lt. General Tattini also talked about the study of exoplanets (planets outside our solar system). Currently there have been 343 discovered but only one of them is earth sized. Most are the size of Jupiter or bigger. The Kepler mission that just launched this month will be looking for earth size planets. As you can tell this was an information packed presentation. I took over four pages of notes and I know that I missed some stuff.

Lt. General Gene Tattini

Our next speaker was Stephan Feldman, the president of the Astronaut Memorial Foundation. He talked about the foundation and the memorial at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I’ve been to the memorial before and never really “got” it until today. It is a 50 foot tall by 40 foot wide reflective marble wall with the names of the astronauts who have perished in the line of duty. It is reflective so that the names look like they are in the clouds. I thought that was pretty cool. He also talked about the Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award. This award is sponsored by the AMF and the Space Foundation and the winner got regocnized at the opening ceremonies last night. I applied for the award this year. I didn’t win, and didn’t really expect to but I got a letter saying that I was a finalist. We found out today that there were four finalists, I don’t know if I was one of the four but I will definitely be applying again next year.

After those two got done speaking we spent most of the rest of the day doing teacher stuff. We learned about lessons involving space suits, space walking, landing on the moon and Mars, as well as got a ton of great information about other programs to bring back. I will be sharing some of the space suit information tomorrow when I video conference the lesson back. I don’t want to give too much away but I have some cool stuff to be sharing.
Mr. Gagnon (one of the amazing Space Foundation teachers, also a really good friend)

Probably the highlight of the day was a session called “The Astronaut Show: Down to Earth With the Guys From Space.” They brought in Shuttle Astronauts Fred Gregory and Jim Reilly, both flew on three shuttle missions. The third speaker was Livingston Holder. He was an astronaut but his flight was cancelled after the Challenger disaster. They all had some great stories and some great advice for kids and teachers. The videos below are a small part of what they had to say. Probably the biggest idea that I got from them was that no matter who you are, or where you live, or what your background, you truly can become whatever you want. I think Livingston said it best when he said, you know I didn’t get to go into space but on my journey I’ve gotten to do some really cool stuff.

Astronaut Jim Reilly

Livingston Holder

Fred Gregory, first African American Space Shuttle Commander

Another really cool thing happened at the end of the workshop today. One of the presenters had brought along a real Apollo space suit, this was a training suit used when we were going to the moon. My wife got to try it on! I am so jealous. After looking at the pictures you will understand the next thing I’m about to say. I would have loved to have tried it on (see picture of me in the helmet) but you would have needed a crow bar and some WD-40 to get me into our out of it. Check out the pictures of Sarah in the space suit.

Houston, we have a problem - My head is stuck!

I didn't think she was going to take the suit off.
Even Chrys from the Space Foundation got into the act.

Tomorrow Sarah has to fly back to Kansas City but before she leaves we will be hitting the exhibit center along with a little Knight (there is some really cool stuff to take his picture with). We are only two days into the week and it has been unbelievably cool, I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will be like and I am completely excited to bring the things we learned today back and use them at South Valley.

P.S. This is the 150th post I've made to this blog! Woo Hoo!

P.S.S. Check out how snazzy I look in the suit - you don't see that too often.

National Space Symposium Opening Ceremonies

Opening Ceremonies of the National Space Symposium

Where do I start? The opening ceremonies were absolutely amazing. The Space Symposium is at the Broadmoor Hotel. This is one of the nicest hotels you will ever see. It is beautiful. It is nestled right next to the mountains. It has its own lake and a huge championship golf course. My wife and I showed up early and waited around for the doors to open. As people started showing up, we got to see some friends that work for the Space Foundation and some other teacher liaisons that we had met last summer. Once they opened the doors we went to our seats. We were literally six rows back, right in the middle. We had AWESOME seats. As people start coming in it was really a game of trying to pick out who was who. A congressman, Charlie Walker, walked in that I recognized and another one was pointed out to me. The governor of Colorado was there as well as several astronauts. We also saw the Chinese delegation including one of their taikonauts (Chinese word for astronaut). He was actually wearing his flight suit (see picture below). Neil deGrasse Tyson came in, he is a pretty famous astrophysicist and a really funny guy. Finally the opening ceremonies started with the Colorado Springs Symphony playing the Star Trek theme song. Now, I’m not usually a big fan of that type of music but they were amazing. Everything was choreographed to videos that played on a huge screen behind them. This is the 25th anniversary of the space symposium and the video was a retrospective. I actually got choked up when they showed a picture of the Columbia astronauts that were lost when the Space Shuttle burned up on reentry.

After they played, the president of the Space Foundation spoke. He was followed by the Governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter. What impressed me most was that both of them talked a lot about education. As a matter of fact, after the governor spoke, all of the teacher liaisons were asked to stand up and they turned the spotlights on us and everyone applauded. It was pretty cool to know that a bunch of congressman, astronauts, and astrophysicists were applauding what we do, really cool also to be standing next to my wife for that part.

Next up they gave out a bunch of awards including the Alan Shepherd technology in education award. I actually applied for this award this year and was finalist. The guy that won did a huge state wide program in Florida. My project wasn’t nearly as cool or as large in scope but it was cool being a finalist. I will try again next year.

As the ceremonies closed, my wife and I made our way up to the stage where we got a chance to meet the Chinese Taikonauts as well as Neil deGrasse Tyson, and one of the congressmen. I was also walking around and saw Ron Sega, who was a space shuttle astronaut and got him to sign my program.

Chinese Taikonaut

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson

When we left there, we went to the exhibit hall which is really cool. I will post pictures of it later but all of these space companies were giving away all kinds of stuff. As a matter of fact, I’m going to be giving away some of it in class after spring break and for the first SVMS student to email me and tell me that they read this, they will get a special prize.

Finally we walked over to the actual hotel (the other stuff had been in a big exhibit hall) and had a desert reception – weirdest desert reception ever, they had a chocolate bar with strawberries, etc. but they also had pizza and mini cheeseburgers. It was all good but an odd mix.
Overall it was an absolutely exhilarating night. Things like this get me really fired up to get back to the classroom and incorporate some of what I’ve learned. It was great to know that on this big stage (7,500+ people in attendance) the Governor of Colorado, and the president of the Space Foundation both made it a point to talk about education and how important it was. They recognized all of the teachers and made sure that everyone there, that was not a teacher, needed to support education. Really powerful stuff!

To end the night, my wife and I walked out to the terrace at the Broadmoor that overlooked the lake and there was the crystal clear sky, crescent moon, and Orion looking down on us. What a perfect end to a great day and the beginning of a fun week.

Bobby and Emi, our good friends that we are staying with in Colorado Springs, Bobby works for the Space Foundation and does amazing things to help teachers bring space into their classrooms!

Monday, March 30, 2009

More Pictures

Views as of 12:30 (Kansas City Time)

Balancing Rock (Mr. Willett pictured left)
Current view as of 11:00 (Kansas City Time)

Theiophytalia Kerri (Means of the Garden of the Gods)

These are more pictures to go with my lesson.


Here is a video I just took from the deck of the visitors center.

Pikes Peak is hidden by the clouds.

The View From Here

I'm getting ready to use Skype to teach a lesson back to South Valley. We've tested it and everything seems to be working. I'm including some pictures here to give you an idea of where I am teaching from. It is snowing but the sky over the mountains is starting to clear up, you can just about see Pikes Peak. I'm adding these pictures because I'm not sure how much my web cam will show. Enjoy the view.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Almost to Colorado Springs

Pikes Peak
I took this earlier today, I thought the shadow of the car looked like "Shrek"

Despite the blizzard warnings, horrible weather in Kansas City yesterday and the worries of many, including myself, we are almost to Colorado Springs. There is actually very little snow on the ground. It is 58 degrees and very windy. I can see Pike's Peak out the front windshield now. I'm always amazed at how cool the mountains look. Tonight will be visiting with our friends that we are staying with, then off to bed early. We will be getting up early tomorrow to Skype a lesson back to South Valley. I have a wireless card and I'm planning on teaching the lesson tomorrow from the visitors center at Garden of the Gods. I can't wait, I've wanted to video conference lessons back from my travels for a long time. In the past I've had kids to activities to follow along with what I was doing, I've blogged and I've even called my class but this trip is cool becuase I feel like the kids really have an opporunity to experience the Space Symposium right along with me. I've had about 8-10 kids that have started following me on Twitter and I told the kids to email me questions this week based on the blog and my tweets. I'm looking forward to getting those emails.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Finally, a Post

I’ve done a really bad job of updating this blog lately. I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to use this with my new teaching position. With teaching the same lesson four times it has been a logistical issue on updating, and which class to update about. I’m still working on that. I have been doing some stuff with Twitter and each of my classes has a twitter account that we have been using to summarize what we have learned at the end of each class. We are just in the beginning stages of this.

This year has been unbelievably busy but really great. I’m loving South Valley Middle School. As a matter of fact, I was just named the SVMS teacher of the year. Broadcasting has been great with a whole bunch of cool interviews including a Harlem Globetrotter, John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted, and Baseball Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr. We have interviews coming up with John Wathan who used to play for the Kansas City Royals and a former Major League umpire. I’m also working on starting a SVMS: Knightly Knews blog.

The reason that I’m starting to update again is that one week from today I will be driving to Colorado Springs, Colorado to attend the National Space Symposium. This is a who’s who of space. I had the opportunity to attend four years ago when I was named a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison. This year I get to go back. I’m going to learn a ton while I’m out there but I also get to see my wife be named a Teacher Liaison. She was one of only 29 teachers in the country this year to receive this award, and the only one from Missouri or Kansas.

The Space Symposium lasts for an entire week and this year I get to stay for the entire thing. (My school is awesome with helping me go with professional development days!) On Monday I will be teaching two lessons back to South Valley. For these lessons, I plan on setting up shop at the Garden of the Gods. I’m hoping to have web cams going. That night are the opening ceremonies. This is where I met Buzz Aldrin the last time (check out my profile picture). To cap of this evening is a desert reception at the Broadmoor Hotel with fireworks. Tuesday is an all day workshop for Teacher Liaisons. I can’t wait for this day. Sarah will receive her award, and then the rest of the day are workshops. I know the teachers and know that whatever they are teaching us I will immediately be able to bring back and use in my classroom. We also have several guest speakers. The first is Lt. General Eugene Tattini who is the CEO and Deputy Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Following him will be a round table discussion with astronauts Fred Gregory and Jim Reilly as well as Livingston Holder who has been a part of many different NASA programs. On Wednesday I will be teaching a couple more lessons back to SVMS and Thursday I will just be attending sessions for the general symposium. On Friday I will have an opportunity to visit NOAA in Boulder, Colorado. I’ve heard about their science on a sphere presentation and am looking forward to that.

My plan is to blog each day when I have a chance (probably each night) but I will also be twittering (tweeting? – still not sure of the proper terminology for twitter – but twittering sounds more manly than tweeting). You can follow me on twitter by visiting: . You can also see the full schedule of events by visiting the Space Symposium website at: You can also learn more about the Space Foundation and the great things that they do by visiting The Space Foundation offers some amazing professional development workshops, an online lesson bank and has been instrumental in me getting to do many of the cool things that I have done in the last couple of years. Because of them I got to go on the Weightless Flight of Discovery, and attend the launch of STS-118.

If you can’t tell, I’m getting really excited about going to the Space Symposium. Stay tuned for more updates.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bigfoot and Straw Towers

I can remember setting in boring science classes where you just read out of the book and answered questions in the back. I really try not to be boring. Sometimes you have to cover some science content to get to the cool stuff but usually there is a way to do it so that it isn’t “boring.” Today we did a couple of different activities that I thought were fun. First, in Science Investigations we created straw towers. The kids had to work as a team to create the tallest free standing straw structure that they could build in five minutes using nothing but straws and tape. The kids did really well. We combined classes with Mrs. Brown’s class. Enjoy the pictures.

In science, the kids had homework last night to read an article about a supposed Bigfoot carcass that was found and stuffed into a freezer. We had a great discussion about that and it was pure coincidence (Don’t you love it when things work out or like they said in the A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together.”) Today in the Kansas City Star there was an article that said the guys are now saying it was a complete hoax. I also brought in a couple of letters that go along with Bigfoot. One is from the guy that took the famous video of bigfoot and the other is from a guy that claims to be the guy in the ape suit in that video. Check out the Dear Mr. Kelsey blog in the next few days for those to be posted.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Day of 7th Grade

Remember back when you were in school and you were all nervous about a new grade, a new teacher, or a new building? I definitely remember that and have relived it today. What an amazing day. I’m excited, worn out, my voice is gone (the plague of all teachers on the first day of school) but what a great day. I have some great kids. It was really cool to see some of the kids that I had in class in the past again. It was also nice to see a few familiar faces. The morning flew by and the afternoon did as well but it is hard to teach the same thing four times in a row. Luckily next week I will only teach the same thing twice.

Homeroom and Science Investigations went so fast just trying to get some of the basics done. Really all of today was expectations and getting to know the kids. That is one of the hardest things for me is learning all of the kids names. I have a few down but nowhere near all of them.

Broadcasting was really cool. I think that the kids were excited about what we are going to accomplish and a little nervous about all the work they have in front of them. I am confident that they will rise to the challenge. The broadcast kids did have homework today – they had to go home and watch TV, watching for the rule of thirds. I think the kids will be really surprised when they see how much it applies to everything on TV.

In science, we went over a lot of different topics including listening to the launch of the Space Shuttle. For homework tonight the kids have to read an article about the supposed Bigfoot that a couple of guys found and put in a freezer. I think it will lead to an interesting discussion in class tomorrow.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Almost Finished!

Right now it is 7:28 pm and I am (hopefully) almost finished with my 90 second news story. We have been working since yesterday at noon on this news story. Our assignment was to go to Branson, Missouri and find someone interesting and create a news story about them. This time we were given a little more freedom and length to get it accomplished. Our target time was between 75-90 seconds. When we got to Branson we were kicking around a few different ideas.

We thought about doing a story about miniature golf, or an old time photo studio. We thought the photo studio might be interesting because we could do some old time effects on the video. We went into a photo studio and didn’t really find anything interesting. So my partner, Bob, and I decided we were hungry so we went to dinner at a Ruby Tuesday’s. Our server came up and we asked him who was interesting in Branson that was within walking distance. He said, “Even though I work at a Ruby Tuesday’s, I’m kind of interesting.” Daniel is going to be trying out for American Idol in a couple of weeks in Kansas City. That in itself was a pretty interesting story. Then he told us that he does the voice of the robot hillbilly at the IMAX theatre. They have a robot dressed up like a hillbilly at the theatre that talks to people and Daniel uses a microphone to do his voice. Now we had an even better story. Then the clincher was when he told us that he uses the robot hillbilly to get girl’s phone numbers and that he met his girlfriend that way. We had struck film making gold.

We were in Branson until around midnight last night and we have been editing the 20 minutes of video that we shot since 10:30 this morning. Our teacher has to come by and give us final approval but we are really close to getting done. The teachers are then putting them all together into a full news broadcast. When I get a copy of that, I will post it on here. I love our story but I’m so tired of it right now that I could puke. I think that is one of the things that is cool about this camp is that it is so hands on that it really makes you feel what our students will be feeling coming up.

On another related note, after everything I’ve learned this week, I dread looking back at the old KMH broadcasts. Not because the kids didn’t do a good job, or do exactly what I asked of them. The kids that have worked on KMH for the last seven years have been awesome. It is just that my knowledge base was so low. There are so many really simple things that I just didn’t know. Those simple things make the job of putting a news story together harder because you have so much to look for but I think the quality of our future broadcasts is going to be well above what we have done in the past. I haven’t had a TV all week (Yes, it is killing me) and I can’t wait to get home to watch it so that I can see where these same techniques are used.

Monday, July 21, 2008

More Drinking out of the Fire Hose

I started broadcast camp on Sunday and again, I feel like I’m trying to drink out of a fire hose. I’m staying in a dorm room at Drury University. I’m roommates with guys from KC, Arkansas and Ohio. In my class there are people from 17 different states. I was even setting in class today net to a woman who knows my cousin that lives in South Carolina. Talk about a small world. Our first night of class was on Sunday and we immediately jumped into things. We actually didn’t get out of class on Sunday night until around 9:00 and that isn’t even out “late” night. This is the first formal education I have had in broadcasting and I have learned so much already. I have been trying to figure out how I’m going to teach my kids the basics of broadcasting while getting our first shows together. I had a few ideas that I was kicking around before this class and now I’m overloaded with ideas.

One of the cool things about this class is that we do lectures in the mornings about how to do different things, then in the afternoons we have assignments to practice them. Last night we had to work on different kinds of shots (Wide, Medium, Tight, Action, Reaction) and we did this by video taping a guy playing guitar. Today our assignment was to create a one minute movie with no sound that told a complete story (beginning, middle, end). We were given a topic and then we had about 2 ½ hours to brainstorm, make a shot list, film/act, and edit. I think ours turned out really good. Out topic was “Silly campers are locked inside a van.” So myself and one of my roommates, Bob, acted like we were dead and then scared our camp counselors. Eventually I will get a copy of that story and post it on here. We definitely made some mistakes but overall I was happy with the results. I think tomorrow we are talking more about putting a news story together so I’m pretty excited about that.

Tonight we went to Lambert’s restaurant, home of the Throwed Rolls. I ate way too much but had some great conversations with teachers from all over the country. If you’ve ever been to Lamberts, you know that it is always a long wait. I figured we would be there for hours when our teacher told us to listen for “Davis party of 44.” It actually only took us about a half hour to get everyone seated. I sat next to a teacher name Marty (again, small world) from Pennsylvania, there were also teachers from Arkansas, New Jersey, Iowa, South Carolina, and St. Louis at my table. I think was is really cool is to hear ideas from others who are excited about teaching. I don’t know how you could go to a class like this or the Space Foundation classes in Colorado Springs and not leave wanting to get back to the classroom and try this stuff out. It is 9:40 on Monday night, I already feel like I’ve been through a week of class but I will probably be up later staring a presentation for the first week of school for broadcasting. I hate the let these great ideas get out of my head.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Back in Class

In my space suit!
The cardboard tubes are sun spot viewers

I’m back in class in Colorado Springs. This time the class is Astronomy Principals for the Classroom: Kinesthetic Astronomy. It has been so much fun so far. The last couple of days we have been learning about telescopes and observatories. Tomorrow we have a lesson on black holes and then tomorrow night we are doing a star viewing. I just got in from looking at sunspots through a telescope (NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN THROUGH A TELESCOPE). What we did was hold paper up next to the eye piece and let the telescope project an image of the sun on the paper. The only bummer was that there were no sun spots today. Check out the link below to see if there are currently any sun spots.

Update – last night was our night viewing and it was really cool. We had 10-12 telescopes set up and were looking at the moon, Jupiter and Saturn. We could even see the rings on Saturn. Today is our last day of class. I’m kind of sad because this is my last Space Foundation class. I’ve taken five of them over the last 3 summers. They have all been amazing.

Looking through the telescope looking at the moon.


Picture of the moon I took through a telecope