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Sponcom

Thoughts to improve my outreach sessions for school, cubs, brownies etc

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Hi SGL

 

Looking for some advice and suggestion please, maybe someone has done something similar.

Last year I started running some astro sessions for my daughters brownies for some badges. It went down so well I started doing them for the school and a couple of cub packs.

This year I'm starting to do it again as it's proved popular and been asked extend to adult groups. 

I'm happy to do this when it fits around work and previously I've used my own kit which requires a lot of setup etc.

This year I've got hold of a couple of cheap refractors that people have pretty much donated and these are great as no collimation for example but still need to be put on a mount that needs to be setup and equatorials are not god for the small kids and they are a bit dangerous! Oops says a 9 year old who flips the clutch and not being balance properly it come crashing down in the tripod legs.

So first things first, I'm trying to get hold of some smaller 6 to 8 inch dobs as I feel these are fool proof and I want the kids to be hands on and they are about the right height so ergonomically perfect. I'd appreciate any suggestions for any other cheapish kit that might be useful. I want to be able to leave it in the church hall where I do most of the sessions and to maximise the time.  I had some equipment stolen last year that I left at a location which was mine and not so cheap!

Also I would appreciate some suggestions for topics to cover, what to look at etc. and what to view bearing in mind that I have to do these sessions quite early - anywhere from 4:30pm to 7:00pm depending on the ages. Some of the evenings have been terrible weather wise so I've brought in globes, and posters and we've discussed tides, equatorial system, orbits, the nature of the universe and all sorts. Anything you could suggest to talk about or material to help illustrate a point for 'wet play' would be great. I'd like to point out I am not a teacher in any shape or form!

I am amazed at what they ask once engaged, the thirst for knowledge is incredible once you get into the groove and they get so exited. 

So sorry for a bit of an open ended question but any suggestions would be more than welcome.

Thanks

 

Paul

 

Edited by Sponcom
typos

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Sounds like you are doing everything right and it's difficult to add to it. We have been actively supporting the "Astronomer" badge for the same groups and most weeks have a couple of visits. I'm amazed that there are so many groups in a 15 mile radius!. One of the requirements of the badge is to recognise some of the constellations. We have a number of cardboard tubes cut from a carpet roll inner, one end is covered by a disc of black cartridge paper that has the more prominent stars of a constellation pierced through the disc. We then put up a large screen shot of constellations and ask the group to identify them by looking through the tubes at the screen. It always goes down well and is not weather dependent. We also have a serious discussion about the potential dangers of solar observation and how to do it safely.  ?

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Hi Peter, nice to hear from you. Thanks for the comments, that is a great idea for those cloudy nights!

 

Paul

 

Edited by Sponcom

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Worth knowing that Brownies have just overhauled the Astronomy badge, well all of them in fact (it's now "Space"). Has one activity on solar observing/making your own sunspot viewer so could be a good one to include on lighter evenings as well.

The 3 constellations requirement is still there.

(Can't speak for Cubs - son isn't old enough yet!)

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Sounds very rewarding ( and a lot of hard work) 

How about getting your hands on a few planispheres?  You could do a session about the way the stars move around the sky as the year goes on. That could lead you on to Polaris and its use throughout history etc. That will of course help with recognising contilations. 

There are some great videos on YouTube about the Earth's position in he Universe which still fascinates me - and I m sure would do the same for young kids and adults alike.

I helped a friend do some outreach a few years back and the only scope we had was a 90mm Mak - our thinking was, ' you can't lose with high mag images of the moon'  keeping it simple seemed to work for us 

Good luck with it 

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