Manhattan Beach Unified School District

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MCHS Astrophysics Program

One of the many things that makes Mira Costa High School the great place that it is stems from the fact that our teachers keep thinking of new classes to interest our students.This year alone, the Board of Trustees approved ten classes recommended by Mira Costa teachers. One of those new courses is Astrophysics, taught by the always passionate and energetic Mr. Dan Bartlett. We have two sections of this class, and this week they had a night time field trip to observe the “Grazing Occultation of Aldeberan.” Read more about Mr. Bartlett and this amazing new class here.

Mr. Bartlett loves chemistry and gets enthusiastic teaching about moles and stoichiometry. But when he pitched the Astrophysics class to the Board last spring, he could hardly contain himself. Having a teacher that passionate about his subject matter is contagious, and that’s why over 70 students are now taking Astrophysics. 

Students in this lab-centered class use telescopes and investigative physics tools to study our solar system, galaxies, planets in the universe, and the interstellar medium. (I need to learn more about the interstellar medium!) They use physics, electromagnetism, relativity, and more to truly understand why space is the way that it is. They explore concepts such as time travel, wormholes, the multiverse, and the origin and future of the universe.

His approach to differentiated instruction is through labs, active student participation, peer to peer work groups, field trips and the ever popular 'night classes'. With night classes being held on roof tops, large fields and big empty parking lots, the class material comes to life so that Mr. Bartlett can really deliver and validate the context and real life application to each student in the most real and authentic way. 

And on October 18th, Mr. Bartlett met his students for a night time field trip in Marina Del Rey, where they observed the Moon, as the star Aldebaran grazed the moon, twinkling as it passed behind the mountains on the moon. I’ve heard from many parents and students that they absolutely love the class. One parent told me, “I sincerely could not be more thrilled for my student and for all students to have the opportunity to witness an adult leader/teacher with this level of passion, energy, drive and commitment to their craft. He has created an environment of true exploration of the science and one's self.” So thank you Mr. Bartlett for sharing your enthusiasm and passion for all things in space with the students of Mira Costa!