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Wild and unruly kids

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#51 star drop

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 12:21 AM

One narrow lane to the telescope and one child at a time. Line the remaining area around the telescope with glue traps, the kind that are used for catching mice.

#52 Skylook123

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 01:09 AM

Managing the environment is not easy for many people. We astronomers tend to prefer solitary work, or sharing some time with peers. It is certainly NOT a character flaw to not want the little, or not so little, darlings running around on sugar highs. After 20 years of outreach, prior to which I coached baseball for 20 years at all ages from pre-Little League through high school, and for many years refereed 10 or more football games a week at the same age levels, I've worked around that audience for over forty years and I'm accustomed to it. Plus my wife was a high school science teacher for many years, and accompanies me on some outreach events. One year her senior physics students got her a tongue in cheek desk sign that said "Harsh but Unfair." If it's my two oldest granddaughters running the scopes, they both teach martial arts and have three younger brothers from whom they take NO baloney.

For twenty years I've been doing about six events each month at schools, plus a half dozen state and county park public events each year, and coming up on ten years of the Grand Canyon Star Party with eight nights of up to 1400 visitors each night and I honestly can say, with an average of about 11,000 young customers each year, I have not had a problem with discipline. Between the 10" SCT/Atlas EQ-G and the 18" Teeter, not cheap stuff and both of which may be in play depending on the venue, I have never had any issue with equipment. Our club takes the outreach very seriously, with about 30 of us who do from one to six or more events each month, and our coordination with the sponsoring organization is explicit regarding expectations. GCSP and the state and county parks are different situations, of course, but at those locations the behavior is generally very good. But to enjoy doing this takes a particular mind set, and it is not for everyone. And that's OK. To paraphrase Orion61, they smell fear.

#53 James Ling

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 02:58 AM


For twenty years I've been doing about six events each month at schools, plus a half dozen state and county park public events each year, and coming up on ten years of the Grand Canyon Star Party with eight nights of up to 1400 visitors each night and I honestly can say, with an average of about 11,000 young customers each year, I have not had a problem with discipline.


Hi Jim....

Wow.... twenty years of participation in outreach activities.....
No wonder with the years of experience, definitely no problem with discipline.....

Hi All....

As for me, I am always next to my equipment at all times for the whole duration of the outreach event...
This enable me to reposition back the viewing object, in the event of any rough handling....,
And I have to admit that doing side walk or outreach activities, enable me to be patient, directing and explaining to anyone who either claims he or she cannot see in the ep, or asking questions, which is holding up the long queues....

REgards

James Ling

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#54 gillmj24

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 03:46 AM

James forgive the positive stereotype but your culture probably treasures respect much more than we do, unfortunately for us in the US. I can deal with kids wanting to touch the telescope if I am there, I can't deal with dozens of little boys playing tag and almost running into my tripod carrying a big apo refractor for example.

I started a similar thread yesterday and I referred the parent who asked me to the three local clubs who can help run a program better than I can.

Also here in America you might be sued if someone in line (queue) 50m away from the solar scope stares at the sun and goes blind.

#55 NeuWerld

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 03:12 AM

In 2009 I started volunteering at the Super Star Party at a park by where I live, the whole night is tailored towards children and getting them into astronomy. I didn't own a telescope at the time but came and helped people set up, break down, clean up...whatever they needed, and in return I had a lot of 1 on 1 time with the guys who brought their scopes and got to hear what they had to say and learn a bit on a more personal level. One of the guys had a real nice 12" solid-tube dob, a DIY project with some exceptional optics...I was lucky enough to spend a good hour looking through it until it was attacked. Attacked you say? One of the kids (probably 4th or 5th grade) picked up a handful of rocks off the walkway and hurled it right into the end of the tube, right in front of me, the owner, AND his parents. Then when confronted the parents told him that "kids will be kids" and refused to offer compensation saying that in the dark his telescope looked like a trash can and it's not their fault that their kid mistook it for one. The whole argument went on for about 15 minutes with the dad actually threatening the guy a few times (the first after being told the price of the mirror the kid broke!) before park rangers called the police to come settle things. The family tried to bolt after the cops were called but the rangers were having none of it and parked their SUV behind their car. Not sure exactly what ended up happening. After the whole ordeal went down they ended the event for the night and we were all asked to go home.

I've never done outreach with my scope because of this night, I'd love to...believe me I would, but I don't know how I'd handle that situation if placed in it. I would be more then happy to set up for a older audience but I don't think I could handle kids :(. It's unfortunate that the possible actions of 1 overly rambunctious kid are responsible for my way of thinking but it's a risk I'm just not willing to take.

Now I'm just 31 so I really can't say "back in my day" because it wasn't that long ago lol, but, back in my day I remember my parents taking me to a star party when I was no older then 11. I remember standing in a single-file line of other children patiently and quietly waiting for our turn to look through the eyepiece while we listened to the instructor (for lack of a better term) talk. Times have changed, even though not a great deal of years have passed. I hate to say it also but it's usually my generation I see not being able to control their kids in public.

#56 edwincjones

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 07:23 AM

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:



very true,
and
most kids/adults are respectful and grateful for the view
only a very small % are problems-but those are the ones we remember, and fear

edj

#57 dpwoos

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:33 AM

I think we all have to be careful not to turn one or even a few unfortunate incidents into indicators of some sort of general decline of civilization! As mirror and telescope makers, my sons and I have invested countless hours in our gear. However, one of the main reasons we do this is so that we can show other folks the wonders of the Universe, and I know that I would be diminished if instead I kept them safe at home. Zoos, museums, coffins and garages keep their contents safe, but what kind of life is that?

Happy New Year.

#58 Achernar

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:17 AM

I have been fortunate in that I never had a willfully malicious child on my hands like that. But I have had to keep kids back from the rear of the tube while others are looking into the telescope. The situation you described is one of several reasons why I would never bring a $4,000 telescope to an outreach event, I use my 6 or 10-inch for that so among other things most people can look into the eyepieces seated on a stool. What happened in front of you was a most unfortunate event, I don't blame you for feeling the way you do. At least on the occasions when I am at an outreach event, usually there are teachers and parents who help out. Most of the time, local outreach events are as much for families as school children.

Taras

#59 Shannon s

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 02:39 PM

I couldn't do it. I don't like most people.Much less their kids. I am a full blown Introvert. I like to sit by myself in my observatory and observe. I have never been to a star party, I might have to talk to someone. I do however have 2 cats that love to annoy me while I observe. Kudos to you all who have the patience to spread the gospel. :bow: :bow: :bow:

#60 Skylook123

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 03:11 PM

Certainly a valid and IMHO and FWIW, acceptable point of view. I'm lucky I love doing outreach. But we all have our gifts.

I will admit that I enjoy astronomer star parties because I always learn so much, and get my misconceptions corrected. You don't know what you don't know.

#61 mich_al

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 03:48 PM

I couldn't do it. I don't like most people.Much less their kids. I am a full blown Introvert. I like to sit by myself in my observatory and observe. I have never been to a star party, I might have to talk to someone. I do however have 2 cats that love to annoy me while I observe. Kudos to you all who have the patience to spread the gospel. :bow: :bow: :bow:


Your message shocked me. I had to check and see who wrote it. It couldn't possibly be me, I only have 1 cat.

#62 Achernar

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 04:30 PM

Don't feel bad, I have three cats who would rather me be scratching them instead of observing. I do not care for most people either, but I don't mind doing a few outreach events a year. I deal with people I dislike ever day, but when I have a choice I keep to myself. I would not stand for the sort of behavior another poster refered to, as in willful destruction of someone's telescope.

Taras

#63 cheapersleeper

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 06:00 PM

I am deaf and use a cochlear implant to hear. Most of the time that I am not at work, I am alone and to a great degree it suits me. I need a lot of time to read and to think and to work on things I like to work on. All that said, despite my being hard of hearing, I enjoy the outreach events. Apparently, I am easy to talk to because out of the many who look and then leave, I typically pick up one or two folks, sometimes a family, that hangs around for a long while to talk about observing and scope building. That is the part I most enjoy.

We are all different. Society seems to place a premium on certain personality types but I hope our hobby will not. To quote a great man: "I yam whut I yam." That is what we all should be. If you don't enjoy outreach, don't do it.

Regards,
Brad

#64 dpwoos

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 08:09 AM

I would also like to stress that I do outreach as much FOR ME as for the kids and adults. I love doing it, and I love reading the notes and looking at the pictures that the kids create and send to me afterwards - it makes me happy. It is difficult for me to understand why not everybody enjoys it, just as it must be difficult for those who don't to undertand why anybody does. My goal is not to goad anyone into doing public observing who doesn't like it, but rather to remind folks that ugly incidents are rare, and that if fear of this kind of stuff happening is the only source of reluctance then another think is in order.

#65 Raginar

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 03:38 PM

I agree with DP... I do outreach for me more than anything else. I think alot of people think astronomy is 'cosmic' and don't get that you can accomplish quite a bit from your backyard.

On the flip side, I'm pretty introverted so I get that part too :).

#66 edwincjones

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:51 AM

"if something can happen, it will happen"

when we do outreach, we pay a price in time, effort, risk to equipment
the risk is small but can occur

the benefit is sharing our enjoyment of the skies, giving the public a thrill,
continuing the hobby to future generations

we all have to decide if the risk/benefit is worth it
like all other aspects of our lives

edj

#67 Perigny270

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 11:37 AM

:waytogo: :waytogo:

But I do understand those who aren't comfortable...

#68 azure1961p

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 12:33 PM

I couldn't do it. I don't like most people.Much less their kids. I am a full blown Introvert. I like to sit by myself in my observatory and observe. I have never been to a star party, I might have to talk to someone. I do however have 2 cats that love to annoy me while I observe. Kudos to you all who have the patience to spread the gospel. :bow: :bow: :bow:


Lol yeah I'd agree with that. Most people in reality are flip, insensitive, clueless and often irritating sooner or later. But SOME people are great. I hate the open public outreach thing. A star party with just fellow astronomers is great. Kids can be an irritant and in all cases when they are its the idiot parent whose got no control over the touchy brat. Then there's the rude remarks about a tin mars etc. I love kids but plenty are just plain wild and I have little paitienc for such nonsense. I work in a shop where last night three kids were bouncing off the walls basically and nothi g but stupid clueless ineffectual parents smiling. Till they get hurt then its lawyer ville.

I like people in general but line the trivial relationship dynamics that typify work place social structure for example, its tempered with the reality that maybe 5% are truly worth knowing well. Lol I find most astronomers in that category.

Pete

#69 dpwoos

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 01:21 PM

I would like to suggest that it isn't that "most astronomers" are in the "truly worth knowing" category, but rather that astronomers are who you share an interest with, and it is this shared interest that puts them into your "truly worth knowing" category. Really, doesn't this make the most sense, rather than the very unlikely idea that amateur astronomers as a group are somehow superior? If it does, then a way to expand your "truly worth knowing" category might be to get to know non-astronomers better, and cultivate other shared interests.

#70 orion61

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 11:33 AM

It usually just takes a little stern word or 2, but there are those that wander about without parents, those are the
bothersome ones especially if in a group of 3 or 4,
These are the time when I wish Outreach was Literal,
Outreach to their little behinds!

#71 edosaurusrex

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 09:19 PM

I struggle with this every year (Outreach participation which can result in unruly kids). Looking back, I was probably like the kids everybody is complaining about. Your telescopes are safe, there was no astronomy outreach where I grew up so I never had the opportunity to play Astro Fungo with anybody's refractor and Erfle eyepieces. But I do remember the patient adults that DID bother to put up with the mayhem and steer me in the right direction. I do outreach twice a year. I take my most bullet proof scope, my old eyepieces, I let the kids try to "find" the brighter planets, stars, and the Moon. I've bitten my lip and tongue many times but, as an earlier poster said, there's a wind down period where an interested family or teachers or Scout leaders and a few kids will huddle around and we'll point and shoot the session away.
Most astronomers I know are loners, perfectly happy to be alone and do what we love in undisturbed silence. I like small groups of astronomers for "object synergy" (apologies for the buzzword) and believe I've seen more because of the occasional "hey, have you ever seen _______". Star Parties, in small doses are great.
Getting back to the kids, yeah there are problems sometimes but I feel I owe it to the adults that put up with me.

2 cents.

Ed

#72 Scott in NC

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 10:20 PM

Great post, Ed! :waytogo:

#73 Joe Bergeron

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 01:14 AM

I'm not exactly the most outgoing person in the world, but I do a fair amount of outreach. I value the opportunity to get away from my usual cloistered existence and actually interact with other humans. If you add it all up I have at least 6 months of solid experience. I use my best equipment. Mostly I'm doing this at national parks. I've never had anyone threaten or damage my equipment. In general, yahoos rarely visit national parks.

This past summer I spent 5 weeks doing outreach at Capitol Reef National Park. The worst thing that happened was when another amateur astronomer showed up. He stood nearby talking about astronomy to his friends while I was trying to keep my mind on my presentation and remain coherent. I finally had to ask him to step away. That wasn't so bad, but the biggest jerks I have encountered at star parties have been a few of the other astronomers, not the public.

#74 dpwoos

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 08:08 AM

I use my best stuff, too. In fact, that is a big reason why I have it in the first place. Never had a problem.

I strongly suspect that the likelihood of having a problem is often overestimated. I base this on the fact that I have never met anyone who has had something ugly happen to them, but rather only report having heard of something happening to somebody else.

#75 MawkHawk

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 11:47 AM

I would like to suggest that it isn't that "most astronomers" are in the "truly worth knowing" category, but rather that astronomers are who you share an interest with, and it is this shared interest that puts them into your "truly worth knowing" category. Really, doesn't this make the most sense, rather than the very unlikely idea that amateur astronomers as a group are somehow superior? If it does, then a way to expand your "truly worth knowing" category might be to get to know non-astronomers better, and cultivate other shared interests.


I dunno. I'm 52 and have worked in a lot of companies and have known a lot of people, most of whom I didn't care for. But the guys in my astronomy club are all pretty cool, easy going, nobody gets upset, everybody helps everybody else, and never an unkind word. They welcome all newcomers with any or no equipment and assist in any way possible.






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