Star project gains a place in the sun Science: George Wright, a teacher at Lindale/Brooklyn Park Middle School, developed a chart depicting the life cycle of a star. It is included in a national catalog.

June 02, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

Science teacher George Wright was trying to find a way to make the formation and evolution of a star come alive for his students at Lindale/Brooklyn Park Middle School and wound up charting his way into the pages of a national science catalog.

His star cycle chart, which depicts the eight stages of a star from birth to death, appears on Page 5 of the 1996 Science Kit & Boreal Laboratories catalog, released in February by the Tonawanda, N.Y., company.

A photograph of Wright is included in the 1,050-page catalog, which he received Tuesday.

Since the catalog's release, 100 copies of the chart have been sold, said Lynn Hesse, director of product development at Boreal, which markets equipment to teachers.

"Traditionally, product sales are heaviest in the summer, and sales are good already, so this is a good indication it's going to do well," Hesse said.

Wright began working on the project in 1994 as a way to get his students excited about learning.

He began with a 12-by-12-inch black box that had panels on each side depicting the stages of a star's life cycle, then put it on a revolving stand so that students could see both sides. Two of his former students did the artwork.

Wright said he had read Boreal's catalog for years and noted that it invited teachers to send in ideas, so he did.

Boreal liked the kit but said "something more" was needed, he recalled.

Hesse asked him how the classroom could get more involved in it.

Wright came up with a transparency projected onto the classroom ceiling, then sent Boreal a 15-minute videotape showing him using the transparency as students pasted pictures of the stages of a star's evolution onto work sheets. Boreal kept the videotape for a year before accepting Wright's idea last year.

"The kids they're excited about it, to know this school is part of something that's going across the country. I know I feel good about it," Wright said.

The star cycle kit, which includes a full-color star cycle chart, a master transparency, and a teacher's guide and instructions, sells for $15.50.

The chart traces the development of a star "from a pinpoint of light into a shimmering ball of fire, depicting its fading beauty as it slowly feeds on itself, collapsing into a black hole, where nothing is left (except, perhaps, the making of a new star)," the catalog says.

"I'm thankful for the Lord, because God is good and he made it possible," said Wright, 50, a deeply religious man who lives on Kent Island on the Eastern Shore with his wife and daughter, 24.

Wright said many people had a hand in making the project a success. Victoria J. Hutchins, the principal at Lindale/Brooklyn Park, for example.

"My principal has been really great. She's been supportive of what we've been doing with it," he said.

Hutchins, in turn, had praise for the teacher. "He has so many interesting things going on, and this is just one example of that," she said.

Although Wright receives an 8 percent royalty on sales -- which amounts to $124 for every 100 copies sold -- the project was never about making money, he said, but rather about a philosophy.

"It's based on what I've been doing over the past 10 years. I've had students think of quality, things they could leave to students who come after them," he said.

In the fall, Wright will use the star chart to instruct a new crop of students.

"I guess they say there's this light that comes on, and when you see that light coming on in kids' eyes, that's pleasurable," he said.

Pub Date: 6/02/96

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