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Teaching Astronomy to Kids They actually allow me into the schools! Outline The basics of teaching to children. My Astronomy Minicourse Curriculum in Three Acts Demonstration of the materials and projects. – A mini minicourse. Background Teaching astronomy minicourse for several years. Various course lengths – 3-day course – 1-day course – “special” visits to classes. Various grade levels – 1st grade through 5th grade Remember History Class? Kids get bored. – MTV generation. – Standing in front of a class and rambling on for hours about obscure or even tangible astronomical concepts will not work. Keep the subject matter varied. – Hop between slides and activities. – Use a question/answer approach during the slides. • Keeps the kids involved even when they aren’t gluing stuff together. Don’t try to explain cosmology. – Keep it simple. – The goal (for me at least) is to expose kids to observational astronomy since this is something they can DO and not have to study. My Minicourse Curriculum Title: Hands-on Amateur Astronomy Description: – Students will learn about amateur astronomy in three hands-on sessions. In one session, students will build their own planisphere and learn how to use it to find constellations. In another session, students will build their own refracting telescope and learn how to use it to observe the moon and planets. And, weather permitting, students will learn how to safely observe sunspots and how to record their observations. Students should bring glue and scissors and coats and hats to class so we can go outside if sunny. Notes about Sessions Each session takes about 45 minutes. Sessions may not go in the order given since the solar session will take precedence due to weather. – But, I like to do the planisphere project before the telescope project. My 3-Day Minicourse Curriculum Day 1 – Constellations – Stellarium (www.stellarium.org) • Ask what constellation it is. • Point out interesting aspects. – Pointer to North Star – Mizar and Alcor – Build Planisphere • Explain why it’s useful. • Step-by-step build. • Teach how to use. – See what constellations are visible that night. – What constellations are visible on their birthdays. 3-Day Minicourse Curriculum Day 2 – Solar Session – Will move this session around depending on weather. – Start out in class explaining solar viewing safety. • Never point a telescope or binoculars at sun. • Explain that we are using special filter equipment to make it safe and that they don’t have this special equipment. – Hand out Solar Observing Log • A sheet of paper with a circle on it and spaces to put date, time, place type of information. – Head outside and set up telescope. • I’ll ask the teacher to get the kids ready while I set up the scope. • I use a projection system since it allows more than one student to look at once. 3-Day Minicourse Curriculum Day 3 – Build a telescope – Powerpoint of different types of telescopes. • Use the skinny glass vs bowl analogy. • Radio telescopes are neat since they don’t look like telescopes. – Build the scopes according to the instructions. • But along the way show how the objective lense doesn’t magnify much but the eyepiece does. • Things are upside down/backwards • Teach them how to focus the telescopes. – Powerpoint of pretty space objects – time permitting. – Hand out list of objects to look at with their telescope. • I have a rudimentary handout I made and give to the kids. 1-Day Version Constellation tour Build planisphere Telescope slides Build telescopes Pretty picture slides (if time permits) TOTAL TIME: about 1.5 hours. Mini-minicourse Constellation slides “Build” planisphere Telescope slides “Build” telescope Pretty picture slides More Information http://www.jesslex.com/astrominicourse.html – Description of course materials. – Downloadable zip file with all the materials.