This year on Valentine’s Day, NASA celebrated the anniversary of one of our most famous self-portraits and I found myself falling in love again with the Voyager photo of the ‘pale blue dot.’ I am reminded each time I see the image of the feeling of being awestruck. I felt similar awe when I held my children right after they were born. I was filled with wonder at the possibilities they embodied even as I was humbled by their fragility. Ada Limon’s poem, “Dead Stars,” reminds me forcefully that we need to create space in our routine for those moments of awe. It is too easy for us to forget the extraordinary panorama against which we lead our mundane lives.
Before the kids come into the room, I place these images in different parts of the room. Two are from NASA’s Hubble Telescope and two are of neurons firing.
We read Ada Limon’s poem - silently, then chorally.
Students walk up to the images and write down a brief description of each image. Then they walk around again and this time they add emotions to their description. We talk about the similarities between images of the brain and the Hubble images. We list the similarities in how they look and how they make us feel. We talk about how the feeling of discovery when we recognize our connections to the stars.
We read the poem again. Students read silently, then chorally. We highlight moments of discovery in the poem. We write down our own rediscoveries of the ordinary.
Rama Janamanchi teaches at a private high school for students with language-based learning differences. Twitter: @MsJanamanchi410