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General Astronomy >> Outreach

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Michael Rapp
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Reged: 04/27/04

Loc: Dickinson, TX
Wild and unruly kids
      #5514312 - 11/11/12 11:35 AM

The astronomers in my area have a wonderful observing situation. We have a full observatory (3 domes and a large observing deck) run by our local Museum of Natural Science. The observatory is located at a state park in Mag 5-to-Mag 5.5 skies.

Saturday nights are public nights and the arrangement is awesome: bring your scope out and show the public the wonders of the universe from dusk until 10:30 pm, then feel free to remain to do your own observing well after the park closes and in a dark environment. It is an ideal and cherished arrangement.

Like many, I enjoy outreach. Itís fun. In fact, my volunteer work out at the observatory during high school is directly responsible for my career as an educator. There is just something magical about witnessing that invariable catch in the voice as someone looks through a telescope for the first time.

However, there is one thing that has threatened to make me just stop doing it. Actually, it even made me take a hiatus for several years in the past.

Itís those wild, unruly kids. These are the ones that grab the scope and push it around. It is not all the kids, of course, not even the majority of them. If I were to try to classify them it would be that they are in the younger grades, exclusively male, not within twenty feet of their parents or supervising adults, and seem to have had a recent meal made of nothing but sugar. (They are often groups of boys, such as Scout Troops. Iím not saying that scout troops are inherently unruly, but that is the most common large number of boys that come by the observatory.)

Of course, people and kids are going to bump my scope. Itís peopleís natural inclination to reach out and try to grab hold of the eyepiece while trying to center their eye on it. I get that. That is normal and to be expected. Itís the ones that run up and grab the scope or put their face over the aperture and try to yell down my tube.

I hate that. This is my telescope, it is special to me, and well, it is expensive.

I often think that maybe this behavior is related to the trend in science museums, especially those that cater to kids. Most of the displays are designed to be manipulated and they are always ridiculously over-built to withstand onslaught of abuse a steady stream of kids can bring. They scream ďTouch me! Move me! Find my limits! Try to figure out how I work!Ē (This is not a bad thing....hands-on science is a good thing!)

It might even be related to the inherent design of the observatory. Below the observing deck is the main lobby in which are peppered about various computer stations for the patrons to explore -- again that touch me/move me/run around and explore notion. Itís a stark contrast to the decidedly do not touch/stand in line/do not run notion of the deck above. (Again, I like the computer stations....it's a step up from just having pictures on the walls to look at.)

And then again, it might just be the overall environment. When we do star parties at schools, the kids are always well-behaved. Perhaps it is the proximity of being on school grounds and close to their teachers. Whereas out at the state park they are free of all of those visible bounds of discipline.

In any case, and before I write a thesis, Iím trying to think of ways to well, minimize my risk. Iím going to try to set up in a corner so that people have to approach my scope from just one side (Iíll be able to see them coming, I suppose). Iím also going to buy a larger step ladder and place some of those small red LED lights on it. The idea here is to 1) provide a physical barrier to the scope and 2) a psychological barrier as well, the young rowdy kids will hopefully be initially focused on the lights on the ladder than my tube.

Iím not an aggressive person and Iím jealous of other astronomers who have a commanding presence when they say ďdonít touchĒ every three minutes. I donít think the wild and unruly kids are going to go away. Itís part of the package of outreach, so Iím working on managing it.

Suggestions welcome!


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Daniel Guzas
professor emeritus
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Reged: 11/20/10

Loc: Bethlehem NH/ Boston MA
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Michael Rapp]
      #5514399 - 11/11/12 12:28 PM

This is what I fear the most about my thought of trying to set up my scope on the sidewalk to show people the sights.

What do I do about kids, or disrespectful people who are a problem? I would have to believe that they are in the minority of people who would be willing to take a look. I too am like you. I don't want to be the overbreeding person saying " don't touch that" but I guess there has to be some of that interaction to make sure that damage is not done.

I will be eagerly awaiting others experiences on this. I believe that some will say that using a scope that is your " crown jewel" at an outreach may be part of the answer. But most of us don't have multiple scopes.

I will be following this thread closely and hopefully I can learn as well.


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MikeBOKC
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Reged: 05/10/10

Loc: Oklahoma City, OK
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Daniel Guzas]
      #5514500 - 11/11/12 01:44 PM

At public outreach events as people approach the eyepiece I say "don't touch or you'll cause the scope to vibrate and ruin the view." Most get that and for the few who still start raising their hands in what seems to be an instinctive gestire to grab ahold I say "no hands if you want to see the best view."

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MawkHawk
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Reged: 08/23/09

Loc: SE Michigan, USA
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5514525 - 11/11/12 01:57 PM

But kids will also run up to the back of a dob and push it while someone is observing. I've seen this several times and it is usually while the parents are trailing behind and watching. I once saw a kid walk over and pour his blue slush onto my buddy's baltic birch dob base, again while with his parents. Can you imagine what that does to your bearings? Outreach with high school kids is usually fine, but I try to avoid it when I know that young ones will be around.

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Astrosetz
professor emeritus


Reged: 10/05/03

Loc: Wisconsin
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5514532 - 11/11/12 02:01 PM

Mike's warning/instruction up front is similar to what I do. After decades of doing outreach, using many different telescopes at several types of venues, I've come to believe that outreach requires active participation -- dare I say a performance -- from the telescope operator. People need guidance when approaching the telescope, explanation of what they're seeing (and why it's important), and interaction (I ask them questions if they don't ask me any). When there is an active exchange, it seems to be a much more meaningful and rewarding experience for both the telescope operator and the guest. For me, it's one of the reasons I love outreach so much.

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izar187
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 09/02/06

Loc: 43N
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Astrosetz]
      #5514658 - 11/11/12 03:36 PM

I agree.
I remain beside the scope to interact with each person at the focuser. This seems to cover all the bases of watching out for my gear, sharing insight with them into what they're seeing, and gaging whether or not they are good candidates for steering the scope along with the target. All my mounts are alt-az, and allowing them to steer the scope is usually very big deal for those who do so. The wild and unruly kids are not likely to be among those I'd ask. Nor their parents for that matter.

In truth kids left to run wild are one of the reasons I only use one scope at outreach, with minimal other stuff out. No tables for charts and eyepieces. Once upon a time, but not for many years. I found it to be less for me to watch over, and less for others to bump into. Also less to pack up.


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Achernar
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: MawkHawk]
      #5514674 - 11/11/12 03:44 PM

That is why I would never bring a $4,000 truss-tube Dob to an outreach event, I use my solid-tubed Dob and less expensive eyepieces. And I watch the children to ensure they don't bump or worse push the rear end of the tube while someone else is looking through it. I have been lucky in that most children are fairly well behaved, but also most children are in the company of a relative. The ones that do seem to be the most rambunctious are boys in the range of about 6 to about 12-years old, older and younger kids seem to be calmer, and girls of all ages are much less rambunctious too. Also, it is a good idea to explain to the children how to use telescopes, including not touching them when someone else is looking through them. It might lead to them joining our hobby, becoming astronomers or other people in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics professions, but they would also know good etiquette as star parties too. One thing that helps is to have enough people with telescopes so wait times are minimal, if there is going to be problems, it when you're being mobbed by large groups of children.

Taras


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BarbMoore
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Reged: 05/11/09

Loc: South central New Mexico
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Achernar]
      #5515409 - 11/12/12 01:11 AM

I always stay with my telescope while doing public outreach and I have NO problems with voicing my concerns when children start acting rowdy anywhere near any of our group's telescopes.

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skyguy88
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Reged: 11/13/06

Loc: Prescott, AZ
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Achernar]
      #5515414 - 11/12/12 01:19 AM

I've been doing outreach projects for years, probably close to 150 events with a video system and never have had a touching issue. I use a table or a cart out in front of the scope with the monitor on it. Newcomers immediately have something to look at and think about. No standing around waiting...and there is continuous conversation.

There is also never a focus issue, and objects like the dumbbell and the Sagittarius nebula are visible in full color. Galaxy structures are clearly visible.

Because I talk to a group and not a series of individuals, I have more time to develop ideas and generate discussions. That leads extensive engagement.

I probably wouldn't enjoy outreach as much and I'm sure that the experience wouldn't have as much impact on visitors if I used more conventional equipment.

Bill


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tedbnh
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: New Hampshire
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: skyguy88]
      #5516277 - 11/12/12 04:13 PM

As kids approach, I remind them,

"Look with your eyes, not with your hands." It helps.

These words are also part of what we tell them indoors before letting them out to look through the scopes. But that's only when we are running both the indoor and outdoor parts. Your situation is different.


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edwincjones
Close Enough
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Reged: 04/10/04

Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: tedbnh]
      #5516328 - 11/12/12 04:58 PM

I once dripped a hex wrench on my primary while adjusting the secondary mirror,

it happens

I am safer than adults at public star parties,
adults are safer than kids,
kids are safer than drunks

but anytime you get out the scope, there is a risk

so do a little risk reduction/management

do the above suggestions
do not get out the best optics if you are worried

accept that a little risk is worth it for outreach

edj

BUT-a few years back I went to the CedarKey star party and a well known amateur was showing Saturn with his 8-10" AstroPhysics MAC scope
-the most expensive set up I have ever seen at a star party
-the best view of Saturn that I have ever seen
sometimes it is worth it

Edited by edwincjones (11/12/12 05:05 PM)


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Skylook123
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5516770 - 11/12/12 09:13 PM Attachment (144 downloads)

Here's the setup I use at schools, but I don't use the laptop and small table; I was fooling around with a web cam when I took the picture.

The point is the walker in the background. When I put it in front of the eyepiece with the small green stool, the kids have to hold onto the walker. I've been using it for about two years, and it keeps hands of the eyepiece/diagonal and for older adults who have to bend over, holding onto the walker eases any vertigo from bending over in the dark. From third grade up through high school, they don't need the green stool but for the little ones, it helps. The key is to keep the hands on the walker; it steadies them in the dark, and keeps the hands busy. Cheapo aluminum foldup walker.


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jgraham
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5516928 - 11/12/12 10:27 PM

This is one concern that keeps me from getting back into outreach. I got tired of doing school events where kids were just running around hog wild while parents stood around in groups chit chatting and ignoring the chaos. What a waste of time.

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Astrosetz
professor emeritus


Reged: 10/05/03

Loc: Wisconsin
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5516962 - 11/12/12 10:40 PM

Many years ago I got a folding stepstool from my grandma when she sold her house -- it's got a high looping handle that makes it very useful since kids hold onto it when they're looking, as do adults (without having to stand on the steps themselves). I think having something to hold onto helps mitigate some of the grabbing, perhaps.

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Mike E.
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/26/10

Loc: Moonstone Observatory
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5517120 - 11/13/12 12:31 AM

Using a walker, what a great idea !

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cheapersleeper
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Loc: Sachse TX
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Mike E.]
      #5517287 - 11/13/12 05:16 AM

I am kind of shocked by what I am reading here. I don't do loads of outreach but the outreach I do is around the Dallas Metro area. We move around quite a lot and in many cases are not in the most affluent areas of town. Many, many kids have looked through my scopes and I have never had one behave as is being described. Even the packs of boys have never really messed with my stuff. Possibly, it has to do with what a few others have posted: presence. I tend to greet everyone, tell them what we are doing, discuss with Mom and/or Dad how we can get the little kids to the eyepiece and such. Sometimes I hold up my hand at head height and say "OK, you look like you need TWO steps on the stool, Mom, would you help her up," and so forth.

I would not think that I have only been catering to a better class of kids...

Regards,
Brad


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edwincjones
Close Enough
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: jgraham]
      #5517364 - 11/13/12 07:26 AM

Quote:

This is one concern that keeps me from getting back into outreach. I got tired of doing school events where kids were just running around hog wild while parents stood around in groups chit chatting and ignoring the chaos. What a waste of time.




waste of time

maybe,
but if we do not try to get the next generation interested in astronomy/science;
our hobby is in bad shape

edj

what really scares me about your statement is that you may be right

Edited by edwincjones (11/13/12 07:28 AM)


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Skylook123
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: cheapersleeper]
      #5517370 - 11/13/12 07:33 AM

I've been doing serious outreach at schools (four or more a month) for about 14 years, and never had a problem at the scope. 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.

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Lt 26
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 02/19/09

Loc: Northwest Illinois
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5517396 - 11/13/12 08:02 AM

It's not the kids. Monster childs are made not born. That is why I view alone all by myself me and my good friend nobody else.

I have three children, four grandchildren and no desire to impress someone's brats.

Dereck


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Michael Rapp
Post Laureate
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Reged: 04/27/04

Loc: Dickinson, TX
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Lt 26]
      #5517679 - 11/13/12 11:04 AM Attachment (86 downloads)

The walker is indeed a great idea. It looks like the strategies are to create a physical impedance to the scope as well as a psychological impedance. That is, have a physical object that discourages or makes it inconvenient to manipulate the scope. Also, to engage the public as they approach the scope so their attention is initially on you and not the instrument.

I was talking with one of my club members a few weeks ago who brings out his 18" scope and has never had any problems. It may be that his scope is so large that there really isn't anything to grab on to initially.

One of our members also brings out his 5" Astrophysics. But this scope rides so high on his G11 that the kids can't initially reach it.

Look at my scope. It's essentially "kid friendly." It's a big visible white tube at kid height. This is a blessing and a curse. Many times I've been able to give a young kid a view of something because they were afraid of the step ladders on the other scopes. On the other hand, it seems to say "grab me."

Maybe I just need to buy a larger aperture scope. Hmmm.


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Hikari
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Michael Rapp]
      #5517731 - 11/13/12 11:31 AM

If you are getting successful, why not try to apply for a grant to buy a scope for this purpose? Talk the schools you work with an ask about how to go about doing this. You may also have the school apply for the grant.

You could also get a beater scope. A really old C5 or C8. It does not have to be special. Saturn and the moon will always impress no matter the quality of the scope.


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Hikari
scholastic sledgehammer
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Hikari]
      #5517732 - 11/13/12 11:32 AM

A 120V "dew heater" could stop kids from yelling down your OTA...

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zippeee
sage


Reged: 12/27/10

Loc: Alberta, Canada
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Hikari]
      #5518210 - 11/13/12 04:06 PM

I too have wondered how to mitigate the hazards of people around your equipment. I thought about (but haven't yet) putting something like this dog pen around my tripod. You could illuminate the bottom and have stuff like your battery and ep cases within the barrier. You wouldn't want to be moving it around all night but we're typically only targeting one object anyway. Anyone done this?

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Mr. Bill
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5518485 - 11/13/12 06:46 PM

Quote:

waste of time maybe, but if we do not try to get the next generation interested in astronomy/science; our hobby is in bad shape edj




I did my share of outreach early in my observing "career" but don't understand the need to proselytize the hobby like some religion looking for converts...it will do just fine as there are always those that seek it out on their own.

This "greying issue" came up at the GSSP last year as a topic of discussion...how do you get young people interested in amateur astronomy? As people were talking about this I looked over to two teenagers in the courtesy tent and noticed they were there because it was the "hotspot" for their video game playing....enough said.



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cheapersleeper
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Mr. Bill]
      #5518737 - 11/13/12 09:29 PM

Quote:

Quote:

waste of time maybe, but if we do not try to get the next generation interested in astronomy/science; our hobby is in bad shape edj




I did my share of outreach early in my observing "career" but don't understand the need to proselytize the hobby like some religion looking for converts...it will do just fine as there are always those that seek it out on their own.

This "greying issue" came up at the GSSP last year as a topic of discussion...how do you get young people interested in amateur astronomy? As people were talking about this I looked over to two teenagers in the courtesy tent and noticed they were there because it was the "hotspot" for their video game playing....enough said.






You are a member of the IDA and you can't figure out why astronomy needs to reach out to those that are younger and you already know it can't work because they are playing video games?

This thread hasn't really done anything to change my feelings about kids, but it is certainly making me wonder about my fellow astronomers.

B


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Littlegreenman
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: zippeee]
      #5518917 - 11/13/12 11:39 PM

Behind every unruly kid is an irresponsible parent.

LGM


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davidpitre
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5519937 - 11/14/12 06:39 PM

Quote:

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.


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oldtimer
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Littlegreenman]
      #5520036 - 11/14/12 07:38 PM

'BINGO"

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Skylook123
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: oldtimer]
      #5520059 - 11/14/12 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.

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Astrosetz
professor emeritus


Reged: 10/05/03

Loc: Wisconsin
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5520216 - 11/14/12 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.


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Mr. Bill
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Astrosetz]
      #5520286 - 11/14/12 10:44 PM

Quote:

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....



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SkipW
sage


Reged: 02/03/11

Loc: Oklahoma, USA
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Mr. Bill]
      #5520368 - 11/14/12 11:51 PM

Quote:

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....




"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.


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omahaastro
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Reged: 08/30/06

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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: SkipW]
      #5520673 - 11/15/12 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.

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csrlice12
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: davidpitre]
      #5520780 - 11/15/12 09:11 AM

Quote:

Quote:

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.


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StarStuff1
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5521127 - 11/15/12 12:22 PM Attachment (55 downloads)

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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MikeCMP
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: StarStuff1]
      #5522382 - 11/16/12 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


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Littlegreenman
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: MikeCMP]
      #5523047 - 11/16/12 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.


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wfj
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: MikeCMP]
      #5523097 - 11/16/12 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.


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TONGKW
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: wfj]
      #5523353 - 11/16/12 07:31 PM Attachment (50 downloads)

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.

K W TONG
C8+CG5 GT, TSA102+HEQ5 PRO, MK67+Voyager, NexStar 6SE, C5+Mizar K, WO ZS80FD+Kenko NES, Megrez 72FD+Kenko KDS, Mini Borg 50, PST


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ColoHank
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Michael Rapp]
      #5523482 - 11/16/12 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.


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Littlegreenman
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5524888 - 11/17/12 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


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csrlice12
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Littlegreenman]
      #5525170 - 11/17/12 09:46 PM

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

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kfiscus
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Michael Rapp]
      #5528735 - 11/19/12 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.


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Perigny270
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: kfiscus]
      #5528902 - 11/19/12 09:53 PM

Quote:

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!


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Michael Rapp
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Perigny270]
      #5529638 - 11/20/12 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!)


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GeneT
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Michael Rapp]
      #5552991 - 12/03/12 10:25 PM

Quote:

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.


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skinnyonce
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: GeneT]
      #5558314 - 12/06/12 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)


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Jitou
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Hikari]
      #5558633 - 12/07/12 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.

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fuzzystuff4ever
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Jitou]
      #5558792 - 12/07/12 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).

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orion61

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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Astrosetz]
      #5597022 - 12/30/12 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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star drop
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: orion61]
      #5597218 - 12/31/12 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.

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Skylook123
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: orion61]
      #5597266 - 12/31/12 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.


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James Ling
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5597337 - 12/31/12 02:58 AM Attachment (33 downloads)

Quote:



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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gillmj24
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: James Ling]
      #5597355 - 12/31/12 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.

Edited by gillmj24 (12/31/12 03:52 AM)


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NeuWerld
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: gillmj24]
      #5599080 - 01/01/13 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.

Edited by NeuWerld (01/01/13 03:15 AM)


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edwincjones
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Perigny270]
      #5599158 - 01/01/13 07:23 AM

Quote:

Quote:

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!





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


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dpwoos
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5599194 - 01/01/13 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.


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Achernar
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: NeuWerld]
      #5599242 - 01/01/13 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


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Shannon s
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Achernar]
      #5599750 - 01/01/13 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.

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Skylook123
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Shannon s]
      #5599796 - 01/01/13 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.


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mich_al
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Shannon s]
      #5599860 - 01/01/13 03:48 PM

Quote:

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.




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


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Achernar
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Shannon s]
      #5599924 - 01/01/13 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


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cheapersleeper
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Achernar]
      #5600052 - 01/01/13 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


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dpwoos
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: cheapersleeper]
      #5600830 - 01/02/13 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.

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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5601444 - 01/02/13 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 .


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edwincjones
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Raginar]
      #5607850 - 01/06/13 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


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Perigny270
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5608151 - 01/06/13 11:37 AM



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


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azure1961p
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Shannon s]
      #5608267 - 01/06/13 12:33 PM

Quote:

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.




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


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dpwoos
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5608367 - 01/06/13 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.

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orion61

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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5610029 - 01/07/13 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!


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edosaurusrex
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: orion61]
      #5612745 - 01/08/13 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

Edited by edosaurusrex (01/08/13 10:39 PM)


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Scott in NCAdministrator
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: edosaurusrex]
      #5612815 - 01/08/13 10:20 PM

Great post, Ed!

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Joe Bergeron
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Reged: 11/10/03

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Scott in NC]
      #5613041 - 01/09/13 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.


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dpwoos
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Joe Bergeron]
      #5613254 - 01/09/13 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.


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MawkHawk
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5613570 - 01/09/13 11:47 AM

Quote:

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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csrlice12
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: MawkHawk]
      #5613737 - 01/09/13 01:31 PM

Right MawkHawk, unlike "work", this is a hobby. There are no "rules"; no deadlines to meet, no schedule or checklist to follow.....its what we do for fun......and that makes a whole universe of difference.......

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MessiToM
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5614022 - 01/09/13 04:24 PM

All this reminds me of a younger boy (parents no where to be seen) grabbed my E.P and started to climb up it. I turned and saw him and the 12" dob start to tip JUST in time. I never turn my back to my gear at public outreaches now....

My club was st up at a local camp ground. I assume parents figured they would let theyr kids rome down there for something to do. I know as a parent of 2 that I would never allow such behavior. These events are the minority not majority of younger folks


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orion61

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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: MessiToM]
      #5614055 - 01/09/13 04:41 PM

It is pretty cool tho when kids see you in the market or
elsewhere in town and come up to you and tell you how
much they loved looking through your telescope.
Same with their Parents..
Those make the other little issues seem so minor, and make it well worth while, and keep me doing it!


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Achernar
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: MessiToM]
      #5614520 - 01/09/13 09:15 PM

That is why I never turn my back on my telescope for a second. It also helps a lot that most of the children I meet are in the company of their parents, I think the parents often get more out of coming to outreach events than the children. I realize most of them have never been face to face with an astronomical telescope before, but past a certain age, they should know better than to use telescopes as jungle gyms.

Taras


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Joe Bergeron
Vendor - Space Art


Reged: 11/10/03

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Achernar]
      #5614651 - 01/09/13 10:51 PM

I think adults usually get more out of it. The younger the kid, the less they understand what they're seeing or are supposed to see. What's really annoying is when parents waste your time by holding their precious toddlers up to your eyepiece so they can tilt their heads and whine about they can't see anything. In general kids younger than about 6 just aren't equipped to get it.

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Achernar
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Joe Bergeron]
      #5616074 - 01/10/13 07:09 PM

I agree, that age seems to be when children begin to be able to actually look through a telescope and grasp what they are looking at. Older kids on other hand, are quite capable of mastering a telescope and finding objects.

Taras


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edwincjones
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Re: Wild and unruly kids *DELETED* new [Re: Achernar]
      #5616773 - 01/11/13 07:34 AM

Post deleted by edwincjones

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StarStuff1
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5616816 - 01/11/13 08:18 AM Attachment (60 downloads)

Here is a pic of the mount and tripod I made a few years ago. It is lightweight but sturdy. Kid friendly height. To it I attach a 4-in f/4 refractor. The scope is made from the objective of a defective 25x100 binocular. A slightly used 22mm wide field ep (bought here on CN for an excellent price) provides 18x and a 4į tfov. I have less than $125 in the project.

This is my "Kid's Scope". When doing outreach I often set this scope up just a few feet away and encourage youngsters to see what they can find (OK, not real good on the planets but for the Moon, Pleiades and other bright clusters or just even star fields it works well). Kids love doing this. It is especially satisfying when they "discover" something and show their parents what they found.

Possibly the best $125 and a few hours of construction I have spent in this hobby.


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dpwoos
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: StarStuff1]
      #5616827 - 01/11/13 08:28 AM

That is great! I am going to think about doing something similar so that kids can give observing a try all on their own, without me (or any other adult) "guiding" them. In fact, I think that guiding kids is important, but I also think that letting them engage in stuff on their own is also (and just as) important.

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Skylook123
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Joe Bergeron]
      #5617426 - 01/11/13 03:04 PM

Some interesting commentary here. Our club is large, and does a lot of outreach; some are paid events for local resorts or conventions, which support our other outreach activities. The free ones are as many as a dozen school events a month, plus Catalina State Park several times a year, same for University of Arizona astronomy students, the county Department of Natural Resources. other special events, and of course the Grand Canyon Star Party. I try to participate in as many as I can, and have been doing so for about fifteen years. As a club policy for school events, we draw the line at third grade. Joe's last post is right on the mark; even with age limits for primary participants, younger family members are also in attendance and the youngest are almost intimidated by the experience, not knowing what the expectation is and rarely getting their eye in position to see anything when held up by an adult.

I don't have a choice between "best" equipment and "good enough". I just use the 10" SCT set at a height for young folks, with a stool available if needed and the revolving star diagonal, and generally use a 19mm Panoptic for the targets. Some of the events will prompt the use of the 18"; I pick targets that let someone around 5'10" stand flat footed at the eyepiece, and have a ladder available but not often used.

In 15 years of outreach, up to half a dozen or more each month with 30 to 150 visitors each time, and GCSP nights with as many as 300 visitors a night to my 18", that's LOTS of public contact and I have never observed anything like the troubles reported here (other than an occasional toddler age child being too young to understand the expectations). However, I have had issues with adults and high school students at religion-based schools that want to debate some aspects of astronomy (I can rope-a-dope pretty well), and two years ago my first real, and only problem. At GCSP, a highly intoxicated college age person who first was a bit disruptive, then next thing I saw he was sleeping on the ground propped against a tripod leg of the 10" my granddaughter was using. A gentle foot to the hip woke him up and he wandered away. That's it. Sounds like I've been mighty lucky! Last I counted, I was at around 60,000 visitors over the years to my scopes, so maybe someone is slipping some Thorazine to my audiences.


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cheapersleeper
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5617555 - 01/11/13 04:26 PM

Jim, I have not done close to the number of events that you have but have done a few here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area that have had 100 to 200 people in attendance and have had no trouble myself and have not seen any. Just lucky or are the majority of these events fun and easy to do?

One thing that might make a difference is that all the large events have a lot of displays and programs going on in the evening leading up to observing later. That may help.

Brad


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edwincjones
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: cheapersleeper]
      #5617867 - 01/11/13 07:40 PM

I have had kids with sticky fingers,
kids, and some adults, that grab the scope for support,
a few "happy" drunks,
but nothing major, or damaging
99% or more of the viewers have been respectful, grateful, polite


edj


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Skylook123
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5618090 - 01/11/13 10:01 PM Attachment (48 downloads)

Quote:

I have had kids with sticky fingers,
kids, and some adults, that grab the scope for support,
a few "happy" drunks,
but nothing major, or damaging
99% or more of the viewers have been respectful, grateful, polite


edj




I haven't had the sticky finger problem, but the grabbing of the eyepiece or scope just happens. I just go into the "look with your eyes, not with your hands" mode and watch hands like a hawk. Actually, the worst problem I ever had, by percentage, was at the outdoor lab for the final session of a Basic Astronomy class two of us taught last fall. Sixteen adults, all retired, very intelligent, laughed the week before in the classroom during equipment demos about people grabbing the scope instead of moving their head to the eyepiece. So at least six of the students grabbed a truss bar to move the eyepiece to their eye. Sigh.

For the kids and the 10", the best acquisition I ever got was my mother-in-law's spare walker about three years ago. Here's a picture of my Halloween setup, except I did not use the table or laptop; that was for some web cam solar work I was doing before the sun went down. So, all I had was the scope, the walker, and the little green stool. The front edge of the walker was right under the eyepiece, with the stool in place. For every child, it was "Hold onto the walker and look at The Owl." No one touches the eyepiece, and for the adults, it helps them maintain balance as they bend down to look into the eyepiece.

No matter what you say, most people will reach for the eyepiece; it's natural. We bring food to our face, and if our head goes into the book, we've been reading it too long. But we have to move our head to the scope, not natural. So, the walker works magic; hands go on the walker before the head goes to the eyepiece. And when not in use, it folds flat. I've noticed some of my fellow outreach practitioners have added it to their basic equipment.


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MikeBOKC
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5618736 - 01/12/13 10:17 AM

"As you approach the telescope, please remember that the only thing that should touch the eyepiece is your middle eyelash."

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Footbag
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5619822 - 01/12/13 09:20 PM

I have a step-stool that I take with me. Unless you are of adult height, you pretty much need to use it. I preposition the stool, and I tell all kids to keep both hands on the top bar of the step-stool.

In the future, I may add the line above about not wanting to touch and shake the view.

I do think video astronomy is a potential solution to this as well. To people who don't have the nostalgia for the eyepiece, it is a lot more interesting. I prefer to do my solar observing on the laptop screen with a sunshade.

When I'm imaging and kids ask to look through the telescope, I tell them that it's hooked up for photography tonight. I leave the DSLR on and switch over to Live View and point towards the moon or a planet. They're more impressed then they would be through the eyepiece.


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tomnjulie
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Footbag]
      #5620065 - 01/13/13 12:30 AM

The issues I've had are with the parents. I feel for the kids whose parents are teaching them moon landing conspiracies.

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dpwoos
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: tomnjulie]
      #5620072 - 01/13/13 12:45 AM

I have had folks that want to push one agenda or another, and insist on having a "discussion" with me that isn't really a discussion at all. I try and cut it short by saying that I am a scientifically minded person, and so tend to stick with that way of looking at the universe. I have to admit to enjoy talking about aliens and alien life. There is a lot to learn from the Drake Equation, Fermi Paradox, and the Great Filter. Sometimes I avoid going into this stuff if there are little kids hanging around, as some of it (if properly understood) can be quite unsettling. However, later in the evening it is only the hard core who are still hanging around the scope, and so we can have some pretty far out discussions while taking turns following a shadow transit!

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Doc Willie
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5621598 - 01/13/13 08:30 PM

I found having a walker for kids to grab onto helped a lot. We had at least 50 kids, and only one or two tried to touch the eyepiece.

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SteveE
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5622770 - 01/14/13 02:18 PM

I use one of Rick Singmaster's "Starstep" observing chairs which, when used according to the Starmaster website guidelines is safe and convenient. It allows for adjustable height within a restricted range. It can be either a stool to stand on or a chair to sit on. It has rails like the walker.

The walker is likely less expensive but if you're up to buying the Starstep you'll find it well made, sturdy and very useful.

As for the unruly kids you only have control over a few things. As an elementary teacher with decades of experience dealing with youthful energy I'd offer this: Make rules and etiquette the first thing you discuss with your crowd; use highly visible cones, ribbons or a ground tarp to delineate the area around your scope and allow only one person at a time to cross the line and observe; keep an eye on every person at the scope as they approach and be ready to alert them about "vibrating the view" or "ruining the scope's alignment" if you see them moving their hands to the scope; keep your program moving and as compelling as possible. Remember, you're dealing with generations that are not as skilled at being away from a screen as you are ; Stay friendly and give them "as needed" glimpses of your serious side when you remind them of the rules; If you can't be friendly as least try for pleasantly neutral.

Best of luck. Don't stop doing it. It's worth it. Indeed, if I might arrogantly impose my views on the world, I'd go so far as to say that these kids really need something like this in their lives.

Steve


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Ed Holland
Carpal Tunnel


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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: SteveE]
      #5623734 - 01/15/13 01:14 AM

I've taken gear to a few local events organised by our town. Usually I set up the 5" refractor or Mak for "show and tell" but also like to bring a 70mm f/10 refractor along specifically to let the younger members drive for themselves. An erect image diagonal and 25mm Kellner provide reasonable entertainment at little risk. Often the children are a bit surprised to be allowed full control, but I consider this to be an important part of being there at a public event - to show that anyone can use a telescope, and what to expect if you get a small but respectable starter setup.

Luckily, no unruly participants have upset the fun
Ed


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dpwoos
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Ed Holland]
      #5623941 - 01/15/13 07:53 AM

I love having these positive stories to balance the negative ones. I think that, in general, negative reports come to carry more weight than warranted. Usually, folks only report the bad stuff and so that is what is heard and shared. It is easy to forget that for every negative there are oodles of positives that go unremarked. If our club is typical in this regard, and I have no reason to think that it is not, then the one story of ugly behaviour keeps getting repeated and passed around, to the point where most folks don't even know who it happened to, when it happened, and where it happened.

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Skylook123
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5625121 - 01/15/13 08:23 PM

I wish you all could read the emails I get after the Grand Canyon Star Party. These are people who make an effort after their vacations to look up contact information and talk about how the experience affected them and their families. I remember one middle-school girl from the midwest with her family on a western park tour. The night they came, the weather was overcast mostly, threatened rain, but some sucker holes opened up and four or five of the astronomers did combined teaching and showing. They stayed three more nights, returned home, and I later found out she started a science club at her school.

This also includes astronomers trying outreach with us for the first time. My favorite was from a woman in Chicago who ran her own design firm, and used solo astronomy for a dozen years to relax from the business stress. She called me for information regarding visiting; she and some friends were traveling out west, she had large Ultra Compact scope, but didn't feel she was up to public use. I could tell that she'd be great with the crowd. I convinced her to join us as a volunteer. She decided to try it one night. She stayed all eight. Sent a very touching email about some of the visitors she had, and how she was going to do this kind of thing at home.

Another time, a retired Interpretive Ranger stopped in for a night of visiting and had a pair of binoculars. By the next year he had four telescopes and now does outreach two or three times a week in Utah. And for the last three years he's returned to GCSP every year and actually gave one of our night talks on some Native American astronomy he researched.

Yeah, LOTS of good to go along with the less than good. BUT, it's not for everyone and that's OK too.

Edited by Skylook123 (01/15/13 08:26 PM)


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Scott in NCAdministrator
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5625194 - 01/15/13 09:01 PM

Great post, Jim! It's interactions like that that really makes it all worth it.

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dpwoos
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5625442 - 01/15/13 11:29 PM

Wow - that's what I'm talking about. Sounds great.

I bet observing at the Grand Canyon is simply amazing. It is really, really nice here in Vermont, but I have this mental image that out west the sky is really, really big. My wife and I are going to have to do a westward astro trip sometime in the next few years!


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Joe Bergeron
Vendor - Space Art


Reged: 11/10/03

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5625547 - 01/16/13 01:17 AM

If I make it back there again I'm going to make an effort to show a bigger variety of objects and not just park on a planet all night until I'm tired of talking about it, even if my scope does have the best planetary views.

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Tim Gilliland
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Loc: Sand Springs Okla.
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Joe Bergeron]
      #5629602 - 01/18/13 10:09 AM

I have a public Sidewalk event monthly at the local Community Center. I set up a 17.5 Discovery PDHQ, and all of my EP's are TV. Yes at times the kids get a bit excited. By reminding them to always keep two hands on the ladder they don't seem to bother the scope. yes I do have to remind some kid's more often than other's. In my advertisment it states that small children must be accompanied by an adult. I have been doing this for going on two years and have had zero problems. I have had many repeat viewers over the years and that is rewarding in itself. It is a VERY rewarding experiance for me.

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Taylor
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 07/10/05

Loc: Owasso, OK
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Tim Gilliland]
      #5629635 - 01/18/13 10:28 AM

Quote:

I have a public Sidewalk event monthly at the local Community Center. I set up a 17.5 Discovery PDHQ, and all of my EP's are TV. Yes at times the kids get a bit excited. By reminding them to always keep two hands on the ladder they don't seem to bother the scope. yes I do have to remind some kid's more often than other's. In my advertisment it states that small children must be accompanied by an adult. I have been doing this for going on two years and have had zero problems. I have had many repeat viewers over the years and that is rewarding in itself. It is a VERY rewarding experiance for me.




I just noticed you're in Sand Springs, how is it?
My wife and I are moving to Owasso next week from Washington DC, I predict we're in for a culture shock.
(I grew up in Chelsea so I know what to expect)


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Tim Gilliland
professor emeritus


Reged: 03/28/09

Loc: Sand Springs Okla.
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Taylor]
      #5629767 - 01/18/13 11:33 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I have a public Sidewalk event monthly at the local Community Center. I set up a 17.5 Discovery PDHQ, and all of my EP's are TV. Yes at times the kids get a bit excited. By reminding them to always keep two hands on the ladder they don't seem to bother the scope. yes I do have to remind some kid's more often than other's. In my advertisment it states that small children must be accompanied by an adult. I have been doing this for going on two years and have had zero problems. I have had many repeat viewers over the years and that is rewarding in itself. It is a VERY rewarding experiance for me.




I just noticed you're in Sand Springs, how is it?
My wife and I are moving to Owasso next week from Washington DC, I predict we're in for a culture shock.
(I grew up in Chelsea so I know what to expect)




I have family in Fredricksburg that I have visited many times. It amazes me how similar it is. Probably the primary differance is the traffic and LP. Both being much more bearable in the Tulsa area. Another great advantage is with a couple hour drive you can get to grey sky's. When you get here look us up on the Case Community Center's web site. They don't post the dates but if you call them they will let you know the next scheduled Sidewalk event. Oh, and Owasso has grown dramatically in the last few years. Sand Springs, not so much.


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Taylor
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 07/10/05

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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Tim Gilliland]
      #5629796 - 01/18/13 11:48 AM

Quote:


I have family in Fredricksburg that I have visited many times. It amazes me how similar it is. Probably the primary differance is the traffic and LP. Both being much more bearable in the Tulsa area. Another great advantage is with a couple hour drive you can get to grey sky's. When you get here look us up on the Case Community Center's web site. They don't post the dates but if you call them they will let you know the next scheduled Sidewalk event. Oh, and Owasso has grown dramatically in the last few years. Sand Springs, not so much.




We'll only be in Owasso for a short period of time. Living with my parents for a month or two as my job doesn't start for a little while, have to wait on those pesky licenses.
We'll be buying a house in the next 12-14 months though, so we'll have plenty of time to get to know the area and see what town we like best.
I'm kind of liking the idea of some of the subdivisions being built by Keystone Lake Park, like Golden Shores Estates and The Bluffs. Some nice looking houses with water frontage and dark skies, can't beat that.


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Tim Gilliland
professor emeritus


Reged: 03/28/09

Loc: Sand Springs Okla.
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Taylor]
      #5630006 - 01/18/13 02:05 PM

Quote:

Quote:


I have family in Fredricksburg that I have visited many times. It amazes me how similar it is. Probably the primary differance is the traffic and LP. Both being much more bearable in the Tulsa area. Another great advantage is with a couple hour drive you can get to grey sky's. When you get here look us up on the Case Community Center's web site. They don't post the dates but if you call them they will let you know the next scheduled Sidewalk event. Oh, and Owasso has grown dramatically in the last few years. Sand Springs, not so much.




We'll only be in Owasso for a short period of time. Living with my parents for a month or two as my job doesn't start for a little while, have to wait on those pesky licenses.
We'll be buying a house in the next 12-14 months though, so we'll have plenty of time to get to know the area and see what town we like best.
I'm kind of liking the idea of some of the subdivisions being built by Keystone Lake Park, like Golden Shores Estates and The Bluffs. Some nice looking houses with water frontage and dark skies, can't beat that.




That will nearly make you next door. I am just across the lake from that. If it is where I am thinking on keystone rd off of 51.


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Larry10
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Reged: 06/16/03

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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Doc Willie]
      #5631166 - 01/19/13 08:42 AM

Quote:

I found having a walker for kids to grab onto helped a lot.



The use of a walker is truly a terrific, effective, and inexpensive help.
For those few whose hands cannot be controlled by this simple method:
http://tinyurl.com/bdmq9t5


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tomnjulie
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Reged: 12/04/12

Loc: Texas
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Joe Bergeron]
      #5636129 - 01/22/13 02:00 AM

Great posts and ideas. I do enjoy when I can point out the bright young kids are more informed than the kmow it all dads. I'm still very much a novice so I carry a small note pad to write down the questions asked by the kids which I don't have an answer for. I sure do appreciate the more knowledgable folks in the club I can send them to for answers.

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darthwyll
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Reged: 03/29/10

Loc: Southeast Texas
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: tomnjulie]
      #5665432 - 02/06/13 02:47 PM

This is an issue that I think every astronomer faces at some point. A lot of these comments are dead on while others seem to be highly negative for reasons that, to me, seem trivial and sound more narrowminded. Outreach is VERY important to our hobby as I have seen. I don't have nearly the amount of time that some of you guys do. I have about 28 events, 97.5 hours of SP time, and have let approx 9,100 people look thru my scope. Out of those 9 thousand plus people, only a handful of kids (3 or 4) have been "problems". No damage to my scope. I will say that I've had to inform some kids and parents about how to use the scope and that has helped big time. The no touch rule is repeated about 600 times a night along with a description and explination of what they will see. I agree with the statements about a cut off age. There seems to be a range of kids who just cant understand how to look. I'd say a good age to begin telescope observing would be around 7-9. The parents do get a lot out of it as well and its always fun giving them a deeper understanding than I think the kids would understand.

All in all, outreach is astronomy's future. The meeting are "greying" and yes, there are younger generations like myself (29) who are deeply involved but there needs to be more. We're about to enter an age where space travel will be quite common so we need these kids now to get interested and begin taking steps to be those next to fly. I understand the frustration but the benefits out number the risks, in my experience. I don't have kids but I still have no issue guiding these little ones and helping them understand something that all of us take for granted. To a kid, the cost of a scope means nothing, so perhaps put yourself in their shoes and try to explain things in ways they can understand. That includes how to use a telescope. Great discussion BTW. I visit the George Observatory frequently and enjoy helping with the public.


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csrlice12
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: darthwyll]
      #5665467 - 02/06/13 03:02 PM

It could just be evolution of the hobby as well:

Early on we looked at the sky with our eyes;
Then we developed telescopes to help us see better'
Then we put telescopes in space to give us views we could not hope to see under our envelope of protective air;
Then, no longer content with just looking, we took our first steps off planet.......the rest is, well, the future.....


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tnranger
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Reged: 01/14/12

Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5669335 - 02/08/13 04:13 PM

I've read this thread with interest. I just volunteered to do a small outreach for my son's 5th and 6th grade Royal Ambassador group at our church. I only have 1 10 inch Dob for what may be 10-15, 12 year old boys (gulp).

I have tried to pre-plan as much as I can, easily accessible site, moon less than 1rst or last quarter, on a non-school night so we can stay up a little later. I think if I get them all to see the Orion nebula, Jupiter, and maybe the moon, I'll be doing well.


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dpwoos
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: tnranger]
      #5669377 - 02/08/13 04:36 PM

I think that you have a good plan - don't try for a lot of targets. In fact, if all they see is Jupiter you will have hit a home run. Have fun, and chat it up. Do some wikipedia reading so that you can talk about Jupiter, e.g. how far away Jupiter is (in light minutes - compare to Mars Rover and Moon Apollo communication times), how big compared to the Earth and Sun, how what we see is gas as opposed to rock (compare to Earth, Mars), etc. Also, I like to say something about Galileo and the Galilean Moons, and how seeing them provided evidence for the heliocentric model of the solar system. Go for it!

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skyguy88
sage


Reged: 11/13/06

Loc: Prescott, AZ
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5670026 - 02/09/13 01:03 AM

Get the moon into view and point out how fast it moves. That leads to a good discussion of how fast the earth is rotating and the fact that they are moving at almost a thousand miles an hour.

Make sure that they notice Jupiter's moons and point out that those moons provided Galileo with solid evidence that the earth wasn't the center of everything.

Point out that M42 is illuminated by super hot newly formed stars and that it's a hotbed of star formation.

That should give them plenty of food for thought.

You might also print up a handout with a few good websites like APOD.

Have fun.

Bill


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Skylook123
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: skyguy88]
      #5670753 - 02/09/13 01:25 PM

www.skymaps.com allows you to download a PDF sky map for the month, and you are permitted to print it as a handout for free public use. That's a nice thing to hand out as well.

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tnranger
super member


Reged: 01/14/12

Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5671033 - 02/09/13 05:00 PM

Great tips all. I'll try to remember to premedicate with ibuprofen.

Edited by tnranger (02/09/13 05:01 PM)


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dpwoos
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: tnranger]
      #5671596 - 02/09/13 11:36 PM

Honestly, its one of the most enjoyable things I do. I hope it is for you, too.

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csrlice12
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Reged: 05/22/12

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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5673839 - 02/11/13 11:07 AM

I hear Rebel Yell is the proper POST-medication of choice.....

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Kraus
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Reged: 03/10/12

Loc: Georgia.
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Michael Rapp]
      #5710199 - 03/03/13 09:33 AM

That's what happens when you let those types near you. They are not worth the effort. Keep them away.

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faackanders2
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/28/11

Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: darthwyll]
      #5710634 - 03/03/13 01:10 PM

Quote:

This is an issue that I think every astronomer faces at some point. A lot of these comments are dead on while others seem to be highly negative for reasons that, to me, seem trivial and sound more narrowminded. Outreach is VERY important to our hobby as I have seen. I don't have nearly the amount of time that some of you guys do. I have about 28 events, 97.5 hours of SP time, and have let approx 9,100 people look thru my scope. Out of those 9 thousand plus people, only a handful of kids (3 or 4) have been "problems". No damage to my scope. I will say that I've had to inform some kids and parents about how to use the scope and that has helped big time. The no touch rule is repeated about 600 times a night along with a description and explination of what they will see. I agree with the statements about a cut off age. There seems to be a range of kids who just cant understand how to look. I'd say a good age to begin telescope observing would be around 7-9. The parents do get a lot out of it as well and its always fun giving them a deeper understanding than I think the kids would understand.

All in all, outreach is astronomy's future. The meeting are "greying" and yes, there are younger generations like myself (29) who are deeply involved but there needs to be more. We're about to enter an age where space travel will be quite common so we need these kids now to get interested and begin taking steps to be those next to fly. I understand the frustration but the benefits out number the risks, in my experience. I don't have kids but I still have no issue guiding these little ones and helping them understand something that all of us take for granted. To a kid, the cost of a scope means nothing, so perhaps put yourself in their shoes and try to explain things in ways they can understand. That includes how to use a telescope. Great discussion BTW. I visit the George Observatory frequently and enjoy helping with the public.




+1

I have really only had one major issue with one kid with my binos locke on an object. Before they go up I tell them just to look, but this one kid was one of the few who wanted to pan and he did before I unlocked them.
The next time in line, I reminded him to just look and not touch, and he said he would do that; but once again he immediately started to pan before I unlocked it. I asked him why he did that when he said he wouldn't and he just repield, "he didn't think I was serious and he wanted to pan". I would have gladly unlocked it, if he advised me beforehand." Conclusion some just don't want to follow instructions and will do what they want.

I use my public eyepiece to prevent mascara, eyemakeup, facepaint, noseprints, and fingerprints; or grabbing the eyepiece like a handle to pull to their eye, to be a major upsetting issue for me at public star parties.


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skinnyonce
super member
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Reged: 03/23/11

Loc: ohio
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: faackanders2]
      #5711212 - 03/03/13 06:47 PM

Not to far off topic,, but this happened to me several years ago at a detroit area car museum..
Im standing looking at a car display hands in pockets when all of a sudden a large cardboard type heavy free standing sign comes crashing down hits me in the face knocks my glasses off and when the smoke settles the adult who knocked it over leaves and I am their standing looking like I did it ,,luckily my friend saw who did it and we fixed the sign and just left that section,,,so adults can be wieners also,,,,,


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Ptarmigan
Lagopus lagopus
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Reged: 09/23/04

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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: NeuWerld]
      #5711329 - 03/03/13 07:49 PM

Quote:

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.




That's really awful. I have done star parties myself and I did not have any trouble with children. Of course they were older. Nowadays, I see more unruly children with inattentive parents in public places.

I remember one time at a star party some adult threw a cup with some liquid into a telescope. They were told to leave as a result by the staff. The telescope owner was understandably very angry.

Edited by Ptarmigan (03/03/13 07:54 PM)


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csrlice12
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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Ptarmigan]
      #5712162 - 03/04/13 09:44 AM

Hmmm, who knew you could stuff a 235lb person into a 4.5" dob ota.......and have room left over...

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Kraus
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/10/12

Loc: Georgia.
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5712445 - 03/04/13 12:37 PM


That's funny Lice. I can see the cartoon now.


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RogueGazer
super member


Reged: 06/10/12

Loc: Central Point Oregon
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Ptarmigan]
      #5713192 - 03/04/13 07:35 PM

I was going to suggest handcuffs but that walker idea is almost as good.
My wife and I do foster care and the kids are never easy and dealing with their parents is even worse. The 4 sibling kids we are fostering now had addict parents who have be raising them to be thugs. One child we discovered needed glasses. He started wearing them and liked them until his mom said she hated him wearing them so he stopped. She also doesn't like how we dress her kids. They don't look gangster enough. Since being in our home over 1 year their behavior has greatly improved. They now have rules and there are always consequences for breaking them. Now they are starting to prefer our lifestyle over their parents lifestyle. The oldest now refuses to even visit her parents and the next oldest is also saying he doesn't want to see them despite our encouraging him to do so. I guess they are lucky their parents rarely show up to the scheduled visits so that decision is made for them.
I think deep down inside these bratty kids want to be better but they don't know any different. Kids usually idolize their parents until about 10 years old. That's when they start thinking their parents are actully stupid. Unfortunately the bratty kids at these events are the ones that need inspired the most. I applaud anyone who does any kind of outreach service. I would freak out if anyone put their slimy hands on my scope.


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Achernar
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Reged: 02/25/06

Loc: Mobile, Alabama, USA
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Ptarmigan]
      #5713293 - 03/04/13 08:24 PM

I bet he was fighting mad, I would be in his shoes in more ways than one. That is one reason why I wouldn't bring an expensive telescope. The other thing I have noticed that most parents will watch their kids, it's when there's lots of kids and few adults to supervise them the potential for problems arises. But throwing something into someone's telescope is the worst outrage I've ever heard of someone doing at an outreach event.

Taras


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Skylook123
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Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: RogueGazer]
      #5713504 - 03/04/13 10:21 PM

Quote:

I was going to suggest handcuffs but that walker idea is almost as good.
My wife and I do foster care and the kids are never easy and dealing with their parents is even worse. The 4 sibling kids we are fostering now had addict parents who have be raising them to be thugs. One child we discovered needed glasses. He started wearing them and liked them until his mom said she hated him wearing them so he stopped. She also doesn't like how we dress her kids. They don't look gangster enough. Since being in our home over 1 year their behavior has greatly improved. They now have rules and there are always consequences for breaking them. Now they are starting to prefer our lifestyle over their parents lifestyle. The oldest now refuses to even visit her parents and the next oldest is also saying he doesn't want to see them despite our encouraging him to do so. I guess they are lucky their parents rarely show up to the scheduled visits so that decision is made for them.
I think deep down inside these bratty kids want to be better but they don't know any different. Kids usually idolize their parents until about 10 years old. That's when they start thinking their parents are actully stupid. Unfortunately the bratty kids at these events are the ones that need inspired the most. I applaud anyone who does any kind of outreach service. I would freak out if anyone put their slimy hands on my scope.




And we must applaud what your efforts are bringing to four precious lives. Your story made my day.


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StarStuff1
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Reged: 04/01/07

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Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5718247 - 03/07/13 11:46 AM

Yes RogueGazer, thank you and your wife for you other public service.

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Classic8
professor emeritus


Reged: 04/12/06

Loc: Naperville, IL, USA
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: StarStuff1]
      #5747358 - 03/21/13 11:12 AM

The walker is a great idea. It's easier to lose your balance in the dark, especially when leaning over to look through an eyepiece, and the natural thing is to grab onto something.

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bluesteel
sage


Reged: 03/24/13

Loc: KILM
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Classic8]
      #5778784 - 04/04/13 11:20 PM

Jeez. If I tried to pull some of the awful stuff posted when I was a kid, I wouldn't be sitting for a week! It seems to me that the kids who have no respect for other people's property usually are the ones with less than spectacular parental units. As RogueGazer posted, their environment can mean a world of difference, and you do not have to be monetarily wealthy to provide that.
Unfortunately for the human race, our brains are wired to remember negative experiences better than positive ones. Think of the poor fool who had to eat the poisonous mushroom to realize (too late of course) it was indeed no good for consumption. Others remember that negative, for great reason, and continued with their lives, knowing not to eat that type of mushroom.
...as for those people who destroy the observing gear, citizens arrest?


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Matthew Ota
Hmmm


Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Los Angeles, California
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: bluesteel]
      #5857240 - 05/13/13 11:14 AM

What I do now is work with the kids. I place them in command of the telescope by putting them behind the keyboard. I have them slew the telescope using TheSky software. I tell them this is how I used to work at Mount Wilson Observatory when I was a telescope operator there. I am showing them how a professional telescope operator works. By putting them in control of my telescope, I am giving them an unforgettable experience that I hope will instill a lifelong interest in astronomy, science and mathematics in them.

In 1970 the seventh grade a science teacher placed me behind an eyepiece. I now am passing the baton to a new generation.


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Michael Rapp
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Loc: Dickinson, TX
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Matthew Ota]
      #6012441 - 08/07/13 09:33 PM

Hi all,

I am the original poster of this thread and I feel the need to provide an update.

After my troublesome experience back in November, I did not volunteer out at the site for seven months. However, I began to miss it. I've been involved with this site off-and-on for over two decades. I was very active out there when I was in high school and the joy I felt in helping the general public get acquainted with astronomy is directly responsible for my career as an educator.

It hit me that I wasn't thinking clearly. The only aspect that has come to bother me is the unruly kids messing with my scope. Well, there is an easy way around this: don't bring my scope!

There are volunteer positions out there that do not require one to use a scope -- there are various door positions to the three permanent scopes out there, for example.

So it is with much happiness that I report that I've been out there twice in July and have been having a blast answering people's questions about the amazing stuff that goes on above our heads.

(I still bring my scope, but I don't bring it out until 11 pm when the public has gone home or back to their campsites.)


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DigitalFox
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Reged: 08/18/12

Loc: Riverside, CA
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: Michael Rapp]
      #6012707 - 08/07/13 11:40 PM

I've come to a similar conclusion that the only way I'm going to be comfortable continuing to do outreach with children around is to simply leave the scope at home. I think that a benefit, besides the lowered anxiety, is that I can spend more time attending to questions and diving deeper in to a topic with someone because my attention isn't divided between the person and my equipment.

Thinking back to when I did interpretive work for the Forest Service I can't imagine having had to entertain and inform an audience and at the same time keep a close watch on hundreds or thousands of dollars of hardware.

All that being said I'm still up for the idea of sharing views through my scopes with responsible adults.


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