On a Tuesday evening after school, the Payson High School baseball field crawled with students, their parents, three teachers and lots of telescopes in all shapes and sizes.
Rim Country Middle School science teachers Scott Davidson and Carmelita Locke joined forces with Payson High School physics teacher Andrew Fiala to pull out the numerous donated telescopes the district has and show their students what’s in the sky.
“I said to the other teachers, ‘We have all these telescopes, let’s use them,’” said Davidson.
Fiala knows Davidson from helping out with his Outdoor Adventure Club (OAC) trips. When not teaching scientific concepts in class, Davidson takes his OAC kids on caving, hiking, skiing and rock-climbing excursions.
Locke has worked in the district for years and knows Davidson well. Like the other two teachers, she loves to get her students out of the classroom and immersed in hands-on projects.
Fiala said looking at celestial bodies fit perfectly with his physics discussions on tidal motion, rotational mechanics, earth and space physics.
“It’s also a chance for the students to get extra credit,” said Fiala.
Fiala encouraged his physics students to talk to the middle school students and answer any questions they might have.
As the sun set and the skies darkened, the students and their parents went from telescope to telescope looking at the moon.
“Hey guys, the primary thing you see are the craters on the moon — in the ’60s they thought what caused them was volcanism,” said Davidson taking a moment to share some information.
“Sounds like Vulcans,” said one student. “Star Trek” fans laughed.
In reality, volcanism actually refers to volcanic activity.
As the evening wrapped up, the students asked when they could do sky watching again.
The middle school students will have a chance to visit the Lowell Observatory on Dec. 5 with Davidson and Locke.