February 11, 2012

This week we ran a contest called 3 CHEERS FOR PLUTO! for students at schools that I visited in Wayne, New Jersey, Skillman, New Jersey, and Newtown, Pennsylvania.  I asked students to do some research about Pluto, and write three facts about the dwarf planet. 163 students and classes left comments on the blog with their answers. Wow!

How did I come up with a winner among the many correct answers? The winner was randomly chosen by a true random number generator on the website www.random.org. First we listed all the entries on page after page, in order of when they were received. Then we used the random number generator, first to pick a page number and then to pick a number on the page. The winning pick was Ainsley, in Mrs. Rodgers’ Class, at Sol Feinstone Elementary School.


Ainsley wrote: 

1. The region of its orbit is known as the Kuiper belt.smile

2. Puto’s distance from the sun is about 3,670,050,000 miles [5,906,380,000 kilometers] smile

3. Pluto’s surface is one of the coldest places in our solar system. smile


The class pick, for Kindergarten through second grade, was a little different. We put each class entry on a small slip of paper, put all of the class entries into a paper bag and then I put my hand into the bag and picked up one of the slips of paper without looking. The winning slip of paper was Mrs. Doheny’s 2nd grade class at Sol Feinstone Elementary School. They wrote:

smileOn August 24th, 2006 Pluto’s status was changed from planet to dwarf planet. 

smilePluto is the only planet named by a kid.

smilePluto has three moons.

 Our second grade class had so much fun researching facts about Pluto this afternoon.  The children can’t wait until Seymour Simon comes to visit us tomorrow!!! 

See you soon,

Mrs. Doheny’s Second Grade Class 

Congratulations to both winners. Ainsley will receive an autographed copy of OUR SOLAR SYSTEM, and Mrs. Doheny’s class will receive an autographed copy of PLANETS AROUND THE SUN.

Now, some of you very advanced planet studiers may have noticed that just a few months ago, astronomers identified a fourth moon orbiting Pluto. For now, it is just being called P4 - it is so new that it has not been given another name yet. Since it is so new, we did not disqualify any entries that said that Pluto has three moons, Charon, Nix and Hydra.


For those of you who are interested, here is a recent diagram from NASA, showing Pluto’s satellite system, which includes all four moons.

Congratulations to everyone who entered the contest! All of your entries have been posted as comments on my blog. Look for your name and your entry on my website, www.seymoursimon.com. Some of you put your comments on stories other than the contest story, so if you don’t see it there, you’ll probably find your comment under another blog story.

Please keep in touch by telling me about what book of mine you’re reading, and what subjects you like the most!

I had so much fun meeting you all last week. Thank you for your enthusiasm for paper airplanes, strange mysteries, and Pluto!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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