BY JENNY SHEARER, Californian staff writere-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Students at Columbia Elementary School wanted Pluto to be a planet.
Third- through sixth-graders voted 258 to 64, defying the International Astronomical Union's Thursday decision that Pluto is a dwarf planet.
Teacher Nick Dokolas invited other teachers to discuss the change with their classes and have them vote on whether the scientists made the right decision.
Posters around Columbia urged students to vote: "Pluto makes the world go round!" Or "Boo Pluto!"
A high school science teacher said her colleagues were expecting Pluto's change in status.
"Most science teachers have known for a really long time that Pluto did not fit the classification of a planet," said Danielle Farrell, science department chair at North High School.
Farrell said a student mentioned the change in class Thursday and that spurred a 10-minute teachable moment.
"If I stand and drone on and on, and nobody's heard about it in the news, they just stare at you," Farrell said.
A teacher at North told Farrell he was going to hit on the change when the class got to astronomy in the spring.
Dokolas took an in-class vote Wednesday and his students were divided, 17-10 in favor of Pluto's planetary status.
"I felt like there was sort of an emotional connection to Pluto," Dokolas said.
One student in Dokolas' class said textbooks would have to change, which he thought was silly.
"They have to rewrite everything they know about Pluto," said Lenny Gonzalez.
Perhaps the first thing to change will be the mnemonic used for the solar system. Dokolas said one of his fourth-graders, Sydney Lewis, suggested changing it from: "My Very Excellent Mother Just Made Us Nine Pizzas," to "My Very Excellent Mother Just Made Us Noodles."
The status change won't affect Bakersfield College's remodeled planetarium, said professor Nick Strobel. Strobel recently ordered a film that mentions Pluto as a planet.
Outside Trader Joe's, Kelly Myers said she thought it was silly that scientists were spending time discussing Pluto's status.
"With everything else going on, the price of gas, the war in the Middle East, whether Pluto's a planet or not seems to be not important," Myers said.
Staff writer Shellie Branco contributed to this story.