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Bizarrely enough (considering my lack of experience), he's asked me (via "The Friends") if I can also assist with my kit so that the girls can get to use and understand EQ mounts and also later on the dark art of astrophotography and guiding - Hopefully my own enthusiasm will make up for my lack of experience, and the Physics teacher will be able to field the "tricky" questions!

Hooray! Well done, my friend! I'm sure you will be brilliant!

Dan

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Bizarrely enough (considering my lack of experience), he's asked me (via "The Friends") if I can also assist with my kit so that the girls can get to use and understand EQ mounts

A lead-in I use for this is to ask them why the mount is tilted like it is? What does that angle mean? What is that axis??

Once they get over the communal shyness teenagers seem to have, one of them usually gets "the Earth's axis" pretty quickly....

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When in school I received no knowledge of astronomy besides what was included in my science / geography books. Today, I teach science to middle and high school students in northern Quebec. Do I bring them outside with my scope? You bet I do!

Isabelle

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A lead-in I use for this is to ask them why the mount is tilted like it is? What does that angle mean? What is that axis??

Once they get over the communal shyness teenagers seem to have, one of them usually gets "the Earth's axis" pretty quickly....

(Thanks... Good idea...!)

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When in school I received no knowledge of astronomy besides what was included in my science / geography books. Today, I teach science to middle and high school students in northern Quebec. Do I bring them outside with my scope? You bet I do!

Isabelle

Brilliant, Isabelle!

If I can be of help, let me know - otherwise, just keep up the good work!!!

Dan

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Thank you very much Dan. My classes start, well in the class. I show them pictures that I have captured outside myself (well they don't look anything like the ones found on here). I want them to see what they will see through the eyepiece not what they might see in astronomy books.

Since I teach in a small northern community which is rather isolated, it is easy to organize viewings with the students (most of them live 15 minutes walking distance from me). I simply write on Facebook that I'm setting up and they come,... Doesn't sound very professional but where else can we find teenagers besides facebook? Ha! Talk about using "the beast" to promote knowledge!

We've had great viewing nights and not so good ones because of weather related inconveniences but those nights always turn out the best since the students come inside where we can discuss the stars holding hot chocolate!

Now that's food for the mind and body no?

Isabelle

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1. Did you have any astronomy education in school when you were younger?

Yes but nothing on the practical side, I never looked through a telescope until about 3 years ago.

2. Do you know of any astronomy education (with telescopes or binoculars) going on in your local schools today?

Yes but nothing formal.

My daughter is in Primary 6 (10 years old) and after the Easter holidays for the whole term all the kids will be learning about the Solar System. This includes a trip to the Glasgow Science Centre where they will spend time in the planetarium and watch a 3D movie in the iMax theatre with footage shot on the ISS and space shuttle.

The kids will also do an individual project on a planet of their choice. 3 years ago when my son was in Primary 6 he done his project on Saturn a few months after I got my first telescope (a cheap Jessops 3 inch reflector on a wobbly Alt/Az mount). We saw Saturn for the first time together and it was an amazing night. I know that he was the only pupil in his class to observe a planet through a telescope and his finished project was shown to the headteacher which he was very proud of.

This year my daughter has already been out and done some sketching of Saturn for her project which is really good. Her young eyes were picking out more detail than I was including an extra moon (later checked on Stellarium) and also the Cassini Division. On the next clear night she will be doing some webcam imaging of Saturn, again I'm sure is first for anyone in her class.

As I have learnt so have both my kids and it has been a real joy to show them all that's out there. :(

Anyway back to the question.... at the last parents night I found myself offering to bring in my scope and do a talk about some of my observations of the planets (:)). Hopefully if it's clear we will be able to do some Solar observing with my white light filter. So by the end of this term with a bit of luck (clear skies) ALL the kids in my daughters class will have looked through a telescope. :)

If anyone has any suggestion or links to cool Solar System films on YouTube etc. please let me know. They have a smart board in the class room that I can link my laptop to, so i'm thinking a PowerPoint based talk might be the way to go. As well as the scope I will also be bringing in a couple of pairs of bino's, planisphere and my trusty Sky Atlas.

If it all goes well I will hopefully be able to do the talk again over the next few years as a have a younger nephew at the school and a few friends kids as well. :(

Edited by stev74
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1)...No

2)...No

It would be nice to be able to offer time / equipement / limited knowledge to schools or after-school clubs to inspire the next generation...but not easy to do in England.

My inspiration was & is... Sir Partrick Moore

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The nearest I ever got to receiving astronomy teaching was in primary school. We had one book by Patrick Moore, that I read as part of my 'library time'.

Catching up to recent times, there was nothing at all in school, at any age, for my 3 sons. In fact here comes a funny (or perhaps sad) story. Hopefully this will be seen as a comment on the appalling state of astronomy and science education in UK schools, rather than hijacking the thread.

Oldest son (approx age 12) brought home some homework. He had to make a sundial. Referring to the homework sheet provided by the school. Their dial had 12 hours rotation, like a clock!!!

This caused all sorts of problems. But after standing outside and looking at the sky, I reasoned with my son and he realsied that his science teacher was an idiot. The homework was done correctly and handed in. 2 from a class of 30 had a 'correct' sundial. Both as a direct result of my intervention. Do parents understand so little of the world around them?

Marked homeworks were returned without comment from the teacher. My son tried twice to ask the teacher (privately) about the error. The response was 'I will get back to you'. As expected, he never did.

Eventaully parents evening came about and I got my turn to ask. Teacher looke quite puzzled. Genuinely couldn't see what was wrong with a 12 hour sundial! I responded with quick sketch, asked him to visualise where the sun shines in his garden morning/midday/evening. Eventually teacher said that he did not know much about astronomy. I pointed out this was not astronomy. It was basic observation of daily events. At that I was speechless and left.

This sort of approach to science was not unique in this school, or as far I have gathered, plenty of other schools. How can this country produce the next generation of scientists and engineers from this educational environment. Rant over.

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This sort of approach to science was not unique in this school, or as far I have gathered, plenty of other schools.

Over the years, I have collected a few gems from the National Curriculum "Earth in Space" bumf:

  • The removal, by decree, of just over a day and a half from the mean synodic month: Suggestion that pupils be encouraged to observe the cycle of lunar phases (so far, so good) and recognise that they have a period of 28 days.
  • The suggestion for a scale model of the Sun/Earth/Moon system (so far, so good) to be made in the classroom. The suggested scale required a minimum classroom length of 60m!

Then there is a former colleague whose daughter was taught at teacher training college that it is colder in winter because we are further away from the Sun. I wonder how many unsuspecting young minds were subsequently infested with that ordure.

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1. Did you have any astronomy education in school when you were younger?

Yes but nothing on the practical side, I never looked through a telescope until about 3 years ago..... at the last parents night I found myself offering to bring in my scope and do a talk about some of my observations of the planets (:(). Hopefully if it's clear we will be able to do some Solar observing with my white light filter. So by the end of this term with a bit of luck (clear skies) ALL the kids in my daughters class will have looked through a telescope. :)

If anyone has any suggestion or links to cool Solar System films on YouTube etc. please let me know. They have a smart board in the class room that I can link my laptop to, so i'm thinking a PowerPoint based talk might be the way to go. As well as the scope I will also be bringing in a couple of pairs of bino's, planisphere and my trusty Sky Atlas.

If it all goes well I will hopefully be able to do the talk again over the next few years as a have a younger nephew at the school and a few friends kids as well. :(

Steve, that is one of the most inspiring stories I've heard in quite awhile! Imagine someone going from "never looked through a telescope in my life" to Local Astronomy Expert doing outreach and helping education in the local schools! :) And in so little time, too! For your school's smart board, try Stellarium - it works great on these devices - I've used them myself. And with Stellarium's ability to lock on, freeze time and zoom in to an actual photo of the object - it is an unsurpassed educational tool. (Free doesn't hurt either!)

These sorts of stories make me proud to be an astronomer, and to be a part of the larger community of star gazers everywhere! :)

Astronomy is a life-changing experience!

Congratulations, Steve!

Dan

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How can this country produce the next generation of scientists and engineers from this educational environment?

Hello David,

Your story is sad, indeed - and I hope (and believe) it is atypical of either British or American science education. Your child's science teacher certainly sounds like a dud - and I wouldn't hesitate to call him or her out (professionally, of course) and point this out. I might even have a word with the Principal (headmaster?) quietly. In the States, our kids are tested regularly for academic achievement and when they do poorly - the reputation of the school suffers. Not that reputation is anything compared to education, but you must find the right lever to move a big rock - and it sounds like your school has a lot of inertia. :)

Please don't give up. Even if that particular teacher is a dud, perhaps you can work with someone else on the staff. Ask the Headmaster, I'm sure they will have suggestions for you. And don't think this person's incompetence is a secret - we all have colleagues at work that make us cringe, and you can bet that this person's reputation as a scientist and a teacher are no better than they should be. (I HATE the tenure system! I'm plenty good enough to keep my job the old fashioned way - by being competent at it!)

Good luck to you, and thanks for confronting the issue and "pushing on that lever". Rocks are inanimate - astronmers have souls. :(

Cheers,

Dan

PS: If I can be of assistance or help with educational materials for your one-man crusade, don't hesitate to PM me!

Edited by Ad Astra
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Steve, that is one of the most inspiring stories I've heard in quite awhile! Imagine someone going from "never looked through a telescope in my life" to Local Astronomy Expert doing outreach and helping education in the local schools! And in so little time, too! For your school's smart board, try Stellarium - it works great on these devices - I've used them myself. And with Stellarium's ability to lock on, freeze time and zoom in to an actual photo of the object - it is an unsurpassed educational tool. (Free doesn't hurt either!)

These sorts of stories make me proud to be an astronomer, and to be a part of the larger community of star gazers everywhere!

Thanks very much for the encouragement Dan. :)

I never thought about using Stellarium, I already have in downloaded onto my laptop, it will be ideal thanks!! :eek:

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At school, personally, nothing.

At home, right now, as we speak, I am still busting with pride because my five year old son just explained to me - with no prompting - that the reason we cant see the stars during the day is because the sun is so bright it turns the sky blue when its on "our side" of the planet.

The reason I'm so proud? He's five. He's managed, with me answering his questions only, to put together a nearly (its an oblate spheroid) spherical earth, conceptualised an orbit, recognised that where he is isn't the totality of earth and still managed to be a five year old with a burning passion for a playstation 3 and a secret love of Thomas the Tank Engine.

Personally, I think my wife and I have done something right there, but only time will truly tell.

Whats really scary is that his three year old brother doesn't just outsmart the five year old, but his mother and myself most of the time as well.

pride/respect/nervousness/fear/love

Alan

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At school, personally, nothing.

Personally, I think my wife and I have done something right there, but only time will truly tell.

Whats really scary is that his three year old brother doesn't just outsmart the five year old, but his mother and myself most of the time as well.

pride/respect/nervousness/fear/love

Alan

You and your wife certainly have done something right! Think of how many centuries of naked-eye astronomy knowledge that represents! Your must be tremendously proud!

I know just how you feel, my three sons (two are grown with kids of their own now) surprise me all the time - and that's been going on for almost 30 years now. My middle son is waaaaaay smarter than his old dad. He is a mechanical engineer who married an MD. The oldest used to program video games for a living, now he teaches programming and mathematics.

The youngest is just 12 (our little surprise!), but he was explaining Newton's laws of force and motion to me after school just today. (Hey Dad, guess what I learned today!?) Then he went on to say that he had asked his teacher what happens when two forces are at angles to each other, but that his 7th grade teacher didn't know. I tried to explain to him that he was thinking of vector analysis, but not to worry the teacher too much about it. Then we sat down and I explained it conceptually.

"Shouldn't you be able to do this with real numbers, Dad?"

"Yes, my boy - that's called trigonometry."

"Is that after algebra?"

"After algebra and geometry."

"Neat! Math and science are a blast!"

Yes, scary as hell... and it makes me pop the buttons off my vest with pride.

Thank goodness there are folks like you who do their best to raise children in this way! Not enough kids get exposed to this sort of thing in school.

Cheers!

Dan

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I showed him this picture once and asked him what he thought it was.

189732_10150209615248696_835688695_8911749_2005581_n.jpg

"A meteorite"

"nope, good guess though."

"A magic feather!"

"..." <----rolling around laughing.

The goal is to channel that wonder and excitement into a rational, broadminded, enquiring mind. It helps that he seems to have a natural bent towards it.

Its very exciting to watch.

Your 12 year old is going to give his teachers a hard time I think. They need to start keeping up with him.

Alan

PS, the picture is the exhaust plume of a space shuttle - gotta admit it does look a lot like a magic feather.

That image is from Astroguyz website: http://astroguyz.com/

Edited by inksmithy
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When I was at school (50s and 60s) we were never taught anything about astronomy which I believe is a shame as the following years were a hive of activity in the "space world". I was lucky enough to be part of that era ( Worked at ESA, ASTRA, and INMARSAT). I now have grandchildren and later today will take my 6 year old grandson out for his first telescope viewing and hope this sparks an interest in a hobby which if pursued can go onto greater things. We should try and get as many young and old alike to have at least one view of parts of our galaxy in their lives.

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Your 12 year old is going to give his teachers a hard time I think. They need to start keeping up with him.

Oh boy - that's already started. My wife and I both being teachers though, it is pretty hard for him to outfox us. Last semester when we found out he wasn't turning in homework regularly, we arranged a surprise for him. Saturday morning at breakfast, the doorbell rang. He got up to answer it -- and it was his history teacher! :eek::eek::icon_salut:

We sat down at the breakfast table and just chatted for 20 minutes without discussing him at all... just to make him sweat - and to put across the message that his teachers were all 'Dad's mates', and so rolls his world. At the end of breakfast, he excused himself saying: "I have homework to finish so I can go skateboarding later." (Heh-heh... Dad rules! :) )

Young Iain wants desperately to take Dad's Astronomy/Chem/Physics series at high school just as his older brothers did. He knows that he has to earn his way in like everyone else, and the brothers Grimm have informed him in no uncertain terms of Dad's 'reverse nepotism' policies. (I expect more of them cause their mine!) He's very determined to show them up! Time will tell on that!

Dan

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Oh boy - that's already started. My wife and I both being teachers though, it is pretty hard for him to outfox us. Last semester when we found out he wasn't turning in homework regularly, we arranged a surprise for him. Saturday morning at breakfast, the doorbell rang. He got up to answer it -- and it was his history teacher! :eek::eek::icon_salut:

We sat down at the breakfast table and just chatted for 20 minutes without discussing him at all... just to make him sweat - and to put across the message that his teachers were all 'Dad's mates', and so rolls his world. At the end of breakfast, he excused himself saying: "I have homework to finish so I can go skateboarding later." (Heh-heh... Dad rules! :) )

Dan

Hahaha that's awesome. I think I'll have to keep something like that in mind for later, very effective I think.

Alan

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1.Yes, I went to astronomy class in my school 6 years ago.It lasted for two years (until professor got bored).We had a small faulty telescope (probably 60mm) and only once we watched Moon through it.Just before astronomy class was shut down we got better telescope which was never unboxed.:)

2.As far as I know, no.We dont even have a astronomy club here in Dubrovnik.:eek:

Edited by Dob
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1.Yes, I went to astronomy class in my school 6 years ago.It lasted for two years (until professor got bored).We had a small faulty telescope (probably 60mm) and only once we watched Moon through it.Just before astronomy class was shut down we got better telescope which was never unboxed.:)

2.As far as I know, no.We dont even have a astronomy club here in Dubrovnik.:BangHead:

Hi Dob!

Wow, Croatia, eh? (Your English is excellent, by the way! :icon_salut: ) That situation with your school sounds very sad. It makes me wonder how many perfectly good instruments are packed away in boxes in closets, garages, and basements because someone has "gotten bored" or otherwise lost interest.

Do you have access to a telescope of your own now? It would certainly be nice to see you start an observers group in your own area. Most clubs are started by someone just like you who decides to get something going out of their own interest and passion for astronomy.

Is it possible for you to take out a small add in a local paper? Offer to get together in the local library, perhaps? Even a coffee shop will do to get started! You may have more potential astronomy friends in your area than you know. :eek:

Dan

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Having read this thread I have to say that I have quite a contrary view to most. Given the financial situation schools find themselves dealing with these days (in the UK at least) I would far rather they focus on the core elements of the curriculum, rather than looking to expand into other areas. Whilst astronomy is a fascinating hobby I don't believe there is the expertise, the funding, or at primary school level the need to go beyond the basics which I understand already are included within the science modules being studied.

To my mind there are more important subjects and skills that kids need to learn.

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