Astronomy in the Classroom.
Richard Owens of the Island County Astronomical Society
visits Mrs. Koorn and Mrs. Kendall's 4th grade classes at Hillcrest Elementary
School in Oak Harbor, WA.
Amateur astronomers from local astronomy clubs are donating their knowledge,
time and use of their telescopes to schools in their community in an effort
introduce the wonders of Universe to young minds. In recognition of this commitment
to public education, the Night Sky Network was formed to provide astronomy clubs
with resources to help them expand their outreach capabilities. By providing
free materials and support to astronomy organizations the Night Sky Network
has aided local clubs in creating a positive impact in classrooms throughout
The classroom opportunities for astronomy outreach range from elementary school
classrooms to college level labs to teaching teachers themselves! Here are just
a few examples of how Night Sky Network clubs are making a difference in the
Astronomers Teaching Students
Mr. Clark's Fifth Grade Class benefits from visits by astronomer Stephen Schiff
of the Astronomical Society of the Palm Beaches in Florida. Dr. Schiff
reported on the fifth graders' enthusiasm for the activities from the Night
Sky Network's "Black Hole Survival" toolkit: "This group really
enjoyed the discussion of black holes on the second day of the unit. They told
me that the idea of gravity never made sense until they learned that space was
curved. They really liked working with the black hole buckets."
Classroom outreach by astronomy clubs is certainly not limited to elementary
schools as Shawn Laatsch of the Carolina Skies Astronomy Club talks of
his experience using Night Sky Network materials with Pitt Community College
astronomy students: "My community college students really enjoyed these
activities at the telescope. One commented that this was the first time she
really understood the distances we discussed in class as more than a bunch of
numbers. All of the students seemed to enjoy logging the objects they were viewing.
I'm looking forward to using the Universe activity in class once we begin our
unit on galaxies."
Astronomers Teaching Teachers
Don Baker of the San Antonio Astronomical Association describes how
they help prepare future teachers in helping to inspire their own students to
explore astronomy: "Our club assists with an astronomy unit, and help give
the student teachers ideas for teaching their future students"
The applications for astronomy education in the classroom are
Bring outer space to your classroom, contact a Night Sky Network member club
in your area! Just click on the Club
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