Western Division Meeting

Event Information

Event Venue: 
Parsons Lodge at Pomfret School
Event Date: 
Sat, 12/05/2015

Join us for the Western Division Meeting on December 5, 2015  from 8:30 am to 12:00 noon at the Parsons Lodge at Pomfret School in Pomfret, CT.  The division meeting will focus on spectroscopy in the classroom and star spectral analysis in the school observatory.

Schedule for the Morning
8:30             Registration and Continental Breakfast in the Lodge
9:00             Pizza Box Spectroscope Lab Project with Sharon Geyer
10:15           Break / Optional Demo and Experimentation of RSpec Camera with Sharon Geyer and Josh Lake
10:45            Astronomy Talk with Josh Lake
11:30            Tour of the Pomfret School Observatory
12:00             Lunch in the dining hall

Pizza Box Spectroscope Lab Project
It is often a challenge to integrate spectroscopy into the high school chemistry lab program. Atomic spectra are an important piece of the puzzle for the development of the modern model of the atom, but viewing atomic emission spectra can often leave students feeling confused and uninspired. This pizza box spectroscope project has turned the classic emission spectrum observations into a hands-on, engaging and quantitative lab experience. Gone are the days of just looking at the pretty colors of the atomic spectra. My students now can take measurements of the prominent lines in an emission spectrum that are within 1% accuracy using a pizza box! Each participant will build and calibrate a pizza box spectroscope at the meeting.

RSpec Camera Experimentation and Demo
In addition to the pizza box spectroscopes, I use RSpec cameras with my students to analyze atomic spectra. The pairing of the homemade instrument with the RSpec camera helps my students understand the information available with the more sophisticated instrument. You will have a chance to use the R-Spec on our gas tubes to compare the results. You can take a look at the RSpec products at this link: RSpec Explorer Link.

Astronomy and Astrophotography at Pomfret School
Spectroscopy is the key to a great deal of astronomical research, and over the last century, it literally revealed a new understanding of the Universe. Stellar spectroscopy tells us the composition of stars, and we can derive a great deal of information from it, including type, age, mass, and motion. Carefully measuring absorption lines over time allows us to find slight redshift and blueshift, letting us study binary systems and stars with exoplanets orbiting them. Astrophotographers combine data from different filtered images, showing features of galaxies and nebulae in a whole new light and unveiling the beauty of the these objects. Using the spectra of galaxies, Edwin Hubble determined that nearly every galaxies is moving away from us meaning that the Universe is expanding and had a beginning, the Big Bang. Spectroscopy is a rich crossover between Chemistry and Astronomy, and students respond to both the beautiful images and the creative techniques of using emission and absorption spectra.

Tour of the Pomfret School Observatory
Josh Lake will offer informal tours of our observatory at the end of the session. Buses will be available for those who are interested in taking a look at the facility.
Lunch at the Dining Hall
Please join Sharon, Josh, and other Pomfret School science teachers for lunch in the dining hall.


Use this link to find directions to the Pomfret School Campus.
Directions to Pomfret School Campus

The campus street address is:
398 Pomfret Street, Pomfret, CT 06258-0128

You can locate Parsons Lodge (#28) on the map at this link:
Map of Pomfret School Campus

There will be signs posted to help you find Parsons Lodge.