Kids Show Us What They Know
At a middle school star party in Tennessee, the Cumberland Astronomical Society passes on their enthusiasm for the night sky: "The big payoff is that that four of the young teens stated that they now wanted to study math and science more so they can be scientists or astronomers!"
(photo and quote by Scott Smith)

You are never too young to teach. These young people have caught the astronomy bug and are sharing it with others. Teaching truly can be one of the best ways to learn a subject, and these students are quickly becoming masters of the night sky. Here are some recent examples of outreach by children and teenagers.

Eileen Grzybowski runs the Norman North Astronomy Club in Oklahoma. This high school astronomy club is one of the most active in the Night Sky Network. They share what they learn with local elementary schools and the general public on a regular basis. Here is what Eileen tells us about a star party this spring: "We enjoyed the view of the waxing crescent moon and used it as our first object to locate in our telescopes. All of a sudden things clicked for one of my special ed students. After several weeks of trying, he figured out the constellations for the first time and was very excited and proud of himself. Then he started teaching others- my favorite part!"

The Northeast Kansas Amateur Astronomers' League Inc. spent Space in the Library Day with some very clever young people. Janelle Burgardt tells us, "When I showed the students how to use their Star Maps, I pointed out the stars that had planets around them and the location of Saturn and Mars in the sky. They thought that would be neat to find. Then I told them to show their parents, because they now knew something that their parents didn't, and they were thrilled!"

Rick Owens from the Island County Astronomical Society in Washington told us about what their club did for a Primary School Science Day, including a very special presentation: "We had groups of kids doing the lunar phases using an overhead projector as the sun. Andy Nielsen and I then had the kids form two groups to watch our slideshow photos of the Oct. 17th 2004 Lunar Eclipse. We had our youngest member Haley (6 years old) help with the demos of the phases of Mercury and Venus. She also shared her observing log."

In California, the South Bay Astronomical Society had a Science night at a local elementary school and saw first-hand how science spreads through generations and cultures. Kenneth Rossi tells us, "There was a lot of Spanish spoken. Kids would bring their parents or grandparents to look thru the telescope. The adults sometimes got more excited than the kids, especially after seeing Saturn. They were profuse in their thanks, most of it in Spanish, but there was no mistaking the sincerity."

Inspiring a young person rates among the top thrills of star parties. When these kids pass their excitement on, the result is spectacular. If you know children or adults who would be interested in learning more about the night sky, stop by a star party this summer to learn more. Click here to contact your local astronomy club.