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Wild and unruly kids

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#26 Littlegreenman

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 11:39 PM

Behind every unruly kid is an irresponsible parent.

LGM

#27 davidpitre

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 06:39 PM

I have noticed that in the lower economic areas, the kids seemed better behaved, and the parents and teachers were quite involved with managing the learning experience. Those for whom English is a second, or even non-existent, language are quite attentive when their progeny explain to their parents or grandparents what I am explaining at the eyepiece, and seem to really appreciate the opportunity.

I do out reach that is more often in low income schools and I have noticed the exact same. Generally the kids are very respectful, attentive, and most of all fascinated. The English as a second language kids are some of the best behaved and appreciative. I love going to these types of schools. I'll bring several solar set-ups, one of which is roughly $6k . I have never once had someone mistreat it. It helps to enlist adults to help with lines. It is important be direct and command attention. Let kids know what you expect from them.

#28 oldtimer

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 07:38 PM

'BINGO"

#29 Skylook123

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 07:58 PM

Great to hear, David. I often help with an outreach session in a local low income communitiy, and it is amazing that there are foot patrols by the anti-gang unit and when the officers come into the park area where we are set up, the kids and parents treat them like superstars. Nearly blew me away the first time. I always leave those sessions with a smile, and hope for the future.

#30 Astrosetz

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 09:50 PM

I've had some isolated instances of kids grabbing my scope, but it's not common. Engaging them up-front is important; if you just stand there silent and let them come up to your scope, you're leaving it up to young uninitiated minds to figure out what to do.

In terms of outreach being a waste of time, obviously amateur astronomers who are engaged in outreach would disagree -- hence this forum dedicated to the subject :) Since I was a benificiary of astronomy outreach when I was a kid, I personally know it can work; beyond that, I believe this kind of outreach can be part of an overall narrative for our youth that science and technology are worthwhile pursuits.

#31 Mr. Bill

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 10:44 PM

In terms of outreach being a waste of time, obviously amateur astronomers who are engaged in outreach would disagree -- hence this forum dedicated to the subject :) Since I was a benificiary of astronomy outreach when I was a kid, I personally know it can work; beyond that, I believe this kind of outreach can be part of an overall narrative for our youth that science and technology are worthwhile pursuits.



Obviously referring to my comments to edj's post.....I never said it was a waste of time....what I said is that amateur astronomy will do just fine without promotion.

If outreach is "your thing", by all means, go for it....

:cool:

#32 SkipW

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 11:51 PM

Obviously referring to my comments to edj's post.....I never said it was a waste of time....what I said is that amateur astronomy will do just fine without promotion.

If outreach is "your thing", by all means, go for it....

:cool:

"Waste of time." The reference was to a different poster who said exactly those words, but I went back and read your comment and I can see why you thought it referred to you.

No, we don't need to proselytize, but giving people a chance to see for themselves what they have read about but seldom or never have seen for themselves isn't a bad thing - especially kids. This really is an interesting and rewarding pursuit, but if no one shows them, they may never know; there are plenty of competing alternatives.

I'm back in the hobby after decades away from it. The most fun is showing others what we can see. Most will go on; a (very) few will have their interest piqued. Some of them will become truly interested, I hope.

#33 omahaastro

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 07:30 AM

We do dozens of outreach events every year and I can't think of any serious problems we've had with kids and equipment. I think this may be mitigated by how we implement these events. Where we do events for schools, we always break up the kids into manageable groups, so the handful of volunteers we have aren't overwhelmed. In addition, we always start each group with a talk, before they head out to the observing area, which includes discussing the enormous investment volunteers have in their equipment, and care that should be taken when around them. When we've been in less controlled settings, an example being a booth with solar telescopes setup at Earth Day, we'll setup stanchions, to control movement of people, prevent kids from running through. I've used my very most expensive equipment, eyepieces, have done hundreds of hours of outreach, audiences of all different ages/demographics, and have never had an incident any more 'serious' than a moved telescope.

#34 csrlice12

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 09:11 AM

I have noticed that in the lower economic areas, the kids seemed better behaved, and the parents and teachers were quite involved with managing the learning experience. Those for whom English is a second, or even non-existent, language are quite attentive when their progeny explain to their parents or grandparents what I am explaining at the eyepiece, and seem to really appreciate the opportunity.

I do out reach that is more often in low income schools and I have noticed the exact same. Generally the kids are very respectful, attentive, and most of all fascinated. The English as a second language kids are some of the best behaved and appreciative. I love going to these types of schools. I'll bring several solar set-ups, one of which is roughly $6k . I have never once had someone mistreat it. It helps to enlist adults to help with lines. It is important be direct and command attention. Let kids know what you expect from them. When a poor person acquires something nice or expensive; they tend to take care of it, because they know it can't be replaced.


Having been poor growing up, one thing we learned: If it cost money, be gentle with it; use it only what it was designed to be used for; and be extra careful if it's "borrowed". I've met many kids from well to do families who have this "mom and dad will just buy me another" attitude; not all, but enough.

#35 StarStuff1

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 12:22 PM

For more than 30 years I have been in an active astro club. We started doing outreach on a regular basis way back then. There are several club scopes on site but members are always welcome to bring their own. One night I set up my brand new 5-in apo with a Go-To GEM. Two young boys went running through and one of them yelled "I bet I can do a pull-up on that thing!" referring to my OTA. Without really thinking my immediate response was "And I'll bet I can kick your a**!" This stopped them in their tracks. I was hoping the parents would show up but the boys slinked away in the darkness. I vowed to never take expensive gear to outreach again.

Don't get me wrong, I still love outreach and do it frequently. Now I use club equipment when we observe there. At other locations a 8-in dob or small achro on an alt-az mount.

Of course the great majority of outreach attendees are well behaved. But often, as we know, they don't really know how to approach the eyepiece. A lot of frequent explanations about the gear and what they will see helps a lot.

As was mentioned several times, a walker is an inexpensive accessory that can be a valuable asset. This one was obtained for free as I recall. I added a plywood shelf for smaller kids to stand on, for adults to sit on. If the eyepiece is really low (when using a 12-in S/C on a very low pier for handicap access) adults can grab the handle, brace themselves and kneel down on a piece of carpet.

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#36 MikeCMP

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 07:54 AM

I used to take my 5" achro for outreach events, on a small manual eq mount, and found that it would get bumped around or touched constantly.

Now, I generally use my 10" LX200 instead, mounted on its wedge. Its so high, and big, and heavy that you really can't push it around, and everyone thinks it is pretty slick when I punch something into the hand box and the scope just puts it in the eyepiece. The jumpstart battery sits under the tripod, and I have a small table a little ways away for some of my things, bnut my eyepiece case sits on the sidewalk, nice and safe from dropping.

I've had some problems with unruly kids, but not too bad, the worst offender to my equipment has been me, when I dropped my zhummel 30mm eyepiece (just scratched)

There are lots of people really interested, i've seen the same people back a number of times wanting another look, so I think its worth it to do it.

Mike

#37 Littlegreenman

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 03:10 PM

One little thing I learned at some point:
Tell people, kids and adults, that when they first look through the telescope to approach it with their hands behind their backs. Once they can see something in the eyepiece, I guide one of their hands to the focuser if it seems appropriate. (Usually I move the focuser back and forth, and teach them how to focus. Yes, for a lot of younger children I am afraid all they ever see is a glob).
I'm usually talking them through things during all this, and also for the benefit of anyone waiting in line.

I hadn't thought of it in the context of unruly kids, but the more you engage with and guide the activity of someone at the scope, the less unwanted behavior will occur. Neophytes with any activity don't know what to do, and don't know what not to do. We do, and it is our job to help them in that regard.

===
Of course, when a youngster running by your set up stops just long enough do something annoying, then you get to decide if you need to escalate to "crowd control."

===
Organizers of such events should consider ahead of time "crowd control." I can imagine it would be more effective to have a 'monitor' who is not showing a scope to help out with that.

#38 wfj

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 03:48 PM

Boy do I have stories to tell about "unruly" outreach.

Bottom line - all are dealable issues, you just roll with the punches.

Oh, and its not just "ill mannered" issues, or neglectful parents. I've encountered "too enthusiastic", "totally clueless", and "at sea" cases as well.

I've used SCT, achromatic refractor, and dob at these events. And I've had problems with each of these.

With the SCT, kids are drawn to "finger" the corrector. With a dob, they'll look down the tube and try spitting on the mirror. With a long refractor, they want to swing it like a bat.

I also tried ETX's - one impassioned youngster (6 or 7) was so thrilled, he tackled the scope/tripod (lowest to the ground setting) - I grabbed both before they fell. His parents calmed him down, and I reacquired the object and we had a nice 5 minutes of trading views and talking about what we were looking at.

The key was to be the showman, not the scope. Once you captured them with your constantly running spiel, you work them through the process of how to observe, what to look for, and how to share with others what they saw.

Doing this continually while working through the line of viewers enforces a process, where they know what to do, how to behave, and what they'll get for the opportunity. Then, the others in the line start retelling, reinforcing, policing others in the line - they have nothing better to do, and it means they get their chance sooner/better.

If I'm going to a "rowdy" crowd, I'd take an achromatic "long" refractor on a GEM - the objective is up high, the eyepiece down low. And I play up the "authority" angle.

If I'm going to a smaller, more restrained crowd, I take the biggest RFT with a telrad. And I try to slide into more of an "advisor" role, getting kids to actually position the scope themselves and then get the surprise in looking through the EP. They'd hug the scope afterwards with the success of using it.

Used to use a 10" red tube Coulter for this, complete with a Pac Bell "cable tote" which made for a great, wide, step for the little fry to get to the EP with. There was one little guy who got proficient at finding things in Sagittarius - he'd move around the tote and the scope together, then climb up and look. Before he left that night, he'd found more than a dozen bright objects with help, and then found them all for his parents all by himself afterwards.

For older audiences, the SCT would be the best for working down the crowds for the quick view and go to the next scope arrangement.

#39 TONGKW

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 07:31 PM

Our club have so far encountered just a few wild and unruly kids at our star parties. Just in case, at star parties, all our club members are told to stand next to their telescopes at all times. As always we just have to advise the participants to only look into and not grabbing the eyepiece.
Kids do love big telescopes. To keep them happy, occasionally we do allow kids to steer the telescope themselves to a target, normally the moon or a landmark.

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#40 ColoHank

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 09:24 PM

I've had just one child (a Girl Scout) grab my scope and re-aim it. Fortunately, my scope is designed to move that way, so there was no harm. It was also my fault for having two scopes in operation at the same time. While I was tending to one of them (a homebuilt Galileo scope with an extremely narrow field of view that requires constant re-aiming, she became impatient and manhandled the other one.

Most other kids have been very well behaved in my experience, but just in case, I always extend my scope's built-in lens shade to protect the corrector from restless fingers.

#41 Littlegreenman

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 06:53 PM

I just realized, one annoying person is someone like me: another amateur, who in my enthusiasm forgets it's not my scope! And starts doing things...

LGM

#42 csrlice12

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 09:46 PM

Uh, if you feel the need to install a Zambuto mirror in my scope, go right ahead....

#43 kfiscus

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 08:25 PM

I'm going to get preachy...
It is not ours to declare outreach a waste of time. We usually don't get to see the results of our efforts. The impact on the wildest kid may not be evident for decades.

We cannot guarantee positive outcomes but can be sure none will occur if we don't try.

#44 Perigny270

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 09:53 PM

I'm going to get preachy...
It is not ours to declare outreach a waste of time. We usually don't get to see the results of our efforts. The impact on the wildest kid may not be evident for decades.

We cannot guarantee positive outcomes but can be sure none will occur if we don't try.


Yup! :waytogo:

#45 Michael Rapp

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 09:12 AM

Again, these kids are in the far minority, but wow when they act up, they act up.

As if to give me something to post on this thread, last Saturday we had one kid walk off with my step ladder (okay, he did just want to use it on a nearby scope, but still) and the same kid removed the eyepiece from someone else's scope.

The parents were a little oblivious about his behavior....but they were captivated by a constellation tour someone was giving, so I can't get too annoyed.

You gotta just shake your head sometimes.

(Then there are the other, more joyous extremes that make outreach all worth it. I had a gemologist look through my scope that night as well and was more captivated by Alberio than anyone I had ever seen. She just could not take her eyes off it!)

#46 GeneT

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:25 PM

those wild, unruly kids. These are the ones that grab the scope and push it around.


After my second outreach session, I decided I needed to get control of the situation. I had both adults and children line up behind the telescope. I guided them up the step stool, and told them to place their eye about an inch from the eyepiece. They held on to the top of the step stool, and were told not to touch the telescope. When their eye was about an inch from the eyepiece, I guided their hand to the focusser. I then had them slowly move their eye to the eyepiece, and turn the focusser. I did fairly well controlling the situation. However, after about a year of doing extensive outreach, I decided it was not for me. I give a lot of my personal time to church and community service. What I need in my astronomical ventures is to focus on viewing. I enjoy viewing with others who know how to use and who own telescopes. Outreach is important. However, I am just in a different place.

#47 skinnyonce

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 09:24 PM

you people are more tolerant then myself,
my ears are longer than most peoples for a reason( parents would pull them when I acted up or showed disrespect)

#48 Jitou

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 02:41 AM

I once planned to organize an outreach event in my village and then I realized how risky this operation would have been for my expensive 18" truss dobson. I know that kids move like butterflies around scopes whether because they are excited by this new experience or they are simply bored to be here.

#49 fuzzystuff4ever

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 08:13 AM

A lot of these kids are mad/bored 'cause their parents dragged them kicking and screaming away from Halo or World of Warcraft or whatever to do something "educational". Usually they're a lot more interested in watching us point out stuff with a laser pointer; the little ones have fun chasing the green dot around the grass (kind of like kittens).

#50 orion61

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 10:16 PM

I set the expectations early and often, I give one warning
then they are not allowed near the equipment.
It is exactly like in school, the soft spoken "nice" teachers get eaten up and spit out! by the little devils LOL






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