You know those nine pizzas? The ones your very excellent mother just served? The pizza days are over, pal. With the world’s prominent astronomers voting yesterday that Pluto will no longer be classified as a planet, the mnemonic device several generations of schoolchildren have used to remember the order of planets in our solar system is now missing a vital piece. Teachers planning astronomy lessons using an old solar system model may find themselves plucking out the smallest Styrofoam ball and rewriting the memory aid to feature noodles, nuts, or nothing. On the plus side, though, many educators recognize that the astronomers’ decision hammers home an important idea about scientific knowledge: that it’s evolving. “What’s so exciting is I’ll be able to share with them the history in the making...I share with them that science changes daily,” said Alan Burrell, a 6th grade science teacher from Indianapolis. He also cites Pluto’s planetary demise as a positive event simply because it’s gotten the public talking about astronomy. “It will get people more interested in finding out about the planets,” he said.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.