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School Club

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#1 Steve F

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 09:13 AM

One of the science teachers and I are starting an astronomy club at our middle school. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.



#2 trw


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Posted 01 November 2012 - 09:27 AM

Keep 'em busy, keep 'em occupied. Lots of cloudy night activities, but none lasting more than 45-60 minutes. Clear nights, as many scopes as you can muster so they don't have to stand in line too long. Encourage them to bring their own scopes, no matter what they have. Teach them about good optics, but never disparage what they have. Help them get the most out of their own stuff. Have a good list of projects for individuals or small groups. Try to have some provisions for transportation--always amazing how many kids can't come because no rides available from parents. Bring snacks and drinks--dangerous around optics but middle schoolers are always hungry. Paper towels and handi-wipes are a necessity. Also useful to have some kickballs and footballs if you have to kill some time outdoors. Maybe even some spare coats, hats, and gloves--kids will show up in the coldest weather in thin team jackets. This is the stuff I do!

#3 MikeBOKC


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Posted 01 November 2012 - 10:58 AM

If there is an adult astronomy club within range, pair up where you can. One of our club members is a science teacher and school astronomy club sponsor and she frequently organizes outings to the (adult) club dark site and star parties, and even up to Okie-Tex. Gives the kids a chance to interact with more experienced astronomers and view their equipment.

#4 Steve F

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 08:42 PM

There is an excellent club in Beaumont that I have been too busy to attend lately. I guess it is time to reacquaint myself and pay up my dues!

#5 csrlice12


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Posted 02 November 2012 - 10:55 AM

Yea, same here. Guess it's time to pay forward the help I've been given by others.....

#6 JayinUT


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Posted 02 November 2012 - 06:30 PM

I ran a club for 6 years until I turned it over a couple of years ago and it is still going strong. The premise is that kids don't want to just look through an eyepiece, they want to use the telescope. Today's kids are more hands on and I still have some kids who are now 18 to 20 that call me and want to go observing when their college schedule allows. When they see an object don't tell them what it is, though you can tell them its identification. Have them look it up, they'll remember it. The more activities that are inquiry and engaging the more the kids get into it. Remember, you may know a lot but if you share too much, you will deny a student the opportunity to learn for themselves and to own their learning.

We got funding and got some Xt10, XT8 and XT6 and then set about teaching them the sky. Since the school was in a pretty urban area we taught the main constellations. Then we taught them how to find the bright objects in those sky and let them work in pairs to discover, observe and record their observations.

We used Uncle Al's sky wheels which are free.

Since not all meetings are about star gazing, get some hands on activities for those as well. NASA has some great resources. Here are a few:

Kids can make a podcast with some ideas at this link.

Here are featured activities for grades 5-8 at this link.

Featured materials for grades 9-12 at this link.

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific has good materials for educators.

Link 1: Educational Resources.

Link 2: Great Hands on Activities that get kids thinking for all levels.

That should help get you started.

#7 Steve F

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 07:17 PM

I just got home from school, never really has been an 8 to 3:30 job like folks think it is. Thanks for the links, I will look them up over the weekend. I am really excited about the club it has been a while since I taught astronomy in a science class, I have missed it.

#8 1983cowboy


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Posted 04 November 2012 - 05:03 PM

We call our group a "club", but it's really more like a regular observing session that I help facilitate. It all started a handful of years ago with a teacher from our local middle school (he and my wife both teach at the same school).

Just last spring, we applied for a "mini-grant" from our PTA and we were able to buy a 6" dob for the club. That might be something to explore. Also, during the coldest times of the winter, we'll schedule a session or two at the observatory of a local community college.

We schedule an observing night once a month during the school year at a nearby park and just invite anyone who wants to come. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own telescope or binoculars if they have one, but naked eyeballs are certainly more than welcome. Over the last couple of years we've had as few as 10 to as many as 65 kids show up with their parents.

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