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General Astronomy >> Outreach

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gillmj24
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Reged: 12/06/05

Loc: PA
saying no to outreach
      #5596542 - 12/30/12 04:49 PM

One of the parents at my wife's elementary school asked me to do an outreach program. She is a music teacher and I help her film their winter concerts and spring plays.

This private school is only 50 kids k through 5 and a more pompously parented unruly spoiled rotten group of kids who can do no wrong I have never met. I have to guard my $600 photo tripod holding my wife's $400 camcorder so that disrespectful kids running around playing tag in their own school dont destroy our stuff while their parents just chat amongst themselves. (Mind you we are taping it for the school and kids' benefit, she spends hours turning the footage into a dvd for them)

The tripod and camcorder are a hundred times more easily replaced than my scopes. The tripod wont break but they could knock the camcorder over and that could break. So I had to say no. I feel bad but I don't trust these kids, or their parents to make sure the kids behave respectfully. What would you do? I directed the parent to three local clubs. Presumably they have more experience with outreach, more experience with kids, and equipment that isn't so precious.

Edited by gillmj24 (12/30/12 05:29 PM)


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edwincjones
Close Enough
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Reged: 04/10/04

Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: gillmj24]
      #5596553 - 12/30/12 04:54 PM

we all have the option of just saying no
50 kids need more than one scope/operator under the best of conditions
my opinion does not count, but your wife's does

edj


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Agatha
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 06/04/12

Loc: Coulee Region, Wisconsin
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: gillmj24]
      #5596571 - 12/30/12 05:03 PM

I do not think that you should feel guilty at all. It is not up to you to babysit the unruly and sometimes even destructive kids...especially when the parents are right there nearby. Outreach is one thing, very admirable. But, having to do the substitute parenting should not be part of it.

Best, Linda B.


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gillmj24
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Reged: 12/06/05

Loc: PA
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Agatha]
      #5596609 - 12/30/12 05:32 PM

It wouldn't be all 50 kids most likely. But I would be more open to it if they were taught by parents or other teachers the slightest modicum of respect for others. He asked me to do something during the day also but a) it is in the opposite direction of my workplace and b) I think the kids parents would sue if their kid looked at the sun and hurt his eyes despite pleas to the contrary. So solar observing is out of the question (lunt solar scope notwithstanding)

Where I feel bad is the guy who asked, his daughter is not the misbehaving one.

Edited by gillmj24 (12/30/12 05:36 PM)


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fuzzystuff4ever
member


Reged: 11/26/12

Loc: Micco, FL
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: gillmj24]
      #5596656 - 12/30/12 06:08 PM

You should not subject yourself or your equipment to this kind of abuse, and you should feel no guilt whatsoever. Ask these worthless so-called "parents" if it's OK for you to run around their houses smashing THEIR valuables.

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mich_al
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 05/10/09

Loc: Rural central lower Michigan ...
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: fuzzystuff4ever]
      #5596683 - 12/30/12 06:26 PM

Quote:

Where I feel bad is the guy who asked, his daughter is not the misbehaving one.




How about offering a private session?


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Doug Reilly
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 07/29/08

Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: mich_al]
      #5596806 - 12/30/12 07:33 PM

I think doing outreach with really expensive equiptment is a bad idea, at least, if some damage would bother you. I did a sidewalk program with my Vixen FL102s which is a dear scope, but I didn't worry too much about it. That's me. If I felt otherwise, I'd get a $150 used Orion XT-6.

I think you also have to judge how much of a(n unruly) kid person you are. You may not be, and that's fine.

As a lover of astronomy I want the right people doing outreach, and those are the ones that will really enjoy it. Life's too short for stress in the thing that is supposed to be your hobby, pasttime, passion even.

The bottom line is age old, know thyself, and be true to that knowledge. If you think you'd enjoy a smaller session with a few kids, then perhaps ask the father you know to gather a few others and do it outside the auspices of the school. Again, only if you think you would enjoy that.

otherwise, you would do well to hook them up with a local club, that probably has several die-hard outreach folks who would cherish the chance to expose their AP refractors to all 50 cherubs!

cheers
doug


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fuzzystuff4ever
member


Reged: 11/26/12

Loc: Micco, FL
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Doug Reilly]
      #5597496 - 12/31/12 08:03 AM

This situation sounds like it's way beyond the normal "kids running around 'cause their parents dragged them to an educational experience" routine. The described level of child malevolence combined with the enabling "parents" disregard of any semblance of responsibility precludes any possibility of a successful learning experience. Oh, and the videotaping of events should end as well; let them pay for a professional to do it and see what happens when they destroy THEIR equipment.

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dpwoos
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Reged: 10/18/06

Loc: United States
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: gillmj24]
      #5597554 - 12/31/12 09:05 AM

What has worked for me is laying out clear ground rules at the start. Kids love to run around in the dark, and I have no problem with that. In fact, I wouldn't mind running around with them! However, I make it very, very clear that there can be no running around near the scope(s). I explain that bumping/moving the scopes is not okay, as hitting someone's eye when they are looking through the eyepiece is a bad thing. They get it.

There are folks in our club who seem to get agitated by kids doing what kids like to do, and really it is better that these folks simply don't do public stuff. I find that a small amount of reasonable instruction has always worked for me, but it is also true that I am fairly easy going about my stuff and am comfortable with putting it in harm's way for the greater good, and my good.


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ColoHank
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Reged: 06/07/07

Loc: western Colorado
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5597977 - 12/31/12 01:30 PM

I've noted over the years that teachers of the younger kids often like to give observing sessions a party atmosphere, providing hot chocolate, cookies, and other treats. We always start out with a safety and etiquette talk to set a proper tone, and I always extend the lens shade to minimize the risk of sticky fingers brushy against my scope's corrector.

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tecmageModerator
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Reged: 01/13/10

Loc: Glenview, IL
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5598081 - 12/31/12 02:28 PM

I've done a couple of science outreach events at my children's school. In both cases, we talked about safety and behavior before going out onto the field. In addition, the teachers were very good about helping out, because they like others coming in to help deepen the material they're teaching.

If you don't feel the teachers and parents aren't supportive, I'd pass on outreach as well.


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gillmj24
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Reged: 12/06/05

Loc: PA
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: tecmage]
      #5598116 - 12/31/12 02:50 PM

I've already passed the buck to the local clubs. Thanks all for your insights.

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Skylook123
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Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: gillmj24]
      #5598205 - 12/31/12 03:35 PM

Good answer.

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dpwoos
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 10/18/06

Loc: United States
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: gillmj24]
      #5598411 - 12/31/12 05:19 PM

Quote:

I've already passed the buck to the local clubs. Thanks all for your insights.




Maybe you can join in if/when the club organizes it. Working with kids (I also assist in a local school's math class) is the best thing that I do for myself, and I find it hard not to be an exuberant advocate for this kind of outreach.


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Skylook123
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Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5598624 - 12/31/12 07:34 PM Attachment (48 downloads)

Two of us teach three 90 minute sessions of introductory astronomy for senior citizens. Part of the overview is a look at how, over history, mankind seems to be called to look to the night sky, and what has been the result for many cultures. Since the next session is a lab (i.e. star party), at the end I have a slide that asks, "What will you find on your exploration?" One of the twenty seniors asked, "What do you find?" I said, "I've seen most of what I feel a need to see, but with new observers I see things again through new eyes." Not only is it enjoyable to open the viewers mind to what is there, it really is like seeing it new all over again. Saturn, M13, M57, Jupiter, Venus in a waxing or waning crescent, a supernova, Albireo or Mizar, or a comet all get such an elation from a first time observer that it really can be like seeing it again for the first time. But it truly takes an interest to do it, and it should not ever be some sort of "must do". Society needs poets and engineers, soldiers and teachers, doctors and philosophers. We all have our gifts. Mine is to leave the cattle prod at home for the unruly kids. Keeps me out of court.

Edited by Skylook123 (12/31/12 07:41 PM)


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StarStuff1
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Reged: 04/01/07

Loc: South of the Mason-Dixon Line
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5602152 - 01/02/13 11:23 PM

Hmmm Thoughtful comments, indeed.

But I will still do outreach. Just too much fun.

Edited by StarStuff1 (01/02/13 11:26 PM)


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JayinUT
I'm not Sleepy
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Reged: 09/19/08

Loc: Utah
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: StarStuff1]
      #5602244 - 01/03/13 12:49 AM

I don't do a lot of outreach, except at the local library. I find I prefer a dark sky but will teach others at a dark site how to observe. Nevertheless, when I do outreach it is with my XT10 and not my premium scope.

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FirstSight
Duke of Deneb
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Reged: 12/26/05

Loc: Raleigh, NC
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: gillmj24]
      #5602372 - 01/03/13 05:10 AM

Quote:

I have to guard my $600 photo tripod holding my wife's $400 camcorder so that disrespectful kids running around playing tag in their own school dont destroy our stuff while their parents just chat amongst themselves.




Whenever I do outreach with one of my scopes, whether for a group of schoolkids, a group of adults, or a mixed group, I'm never more than immediate arm's reach from my scope and gear, and am always watchful like a hawk of who's around me and who might be approaching. My demeanor is welcomingly friendly, yet clearly, firmly in command of the immediate space around my scope and gear, such that kids realize not to approach close enough to touch anything without politely engaging me. If someone's kid was acting out of control worrisomely near my vicinity, I wouldn't hesitate to firmly address the kid directly that they can't (run, horseplay, whatever it is) anywhere near me or my equipment. So far, I've been fortunate not to run into any situation with kids that I couldn't immediately cut off at the pass before any sort of risky or unpleasant incident could develop.

THAT SAID, I'm not hereby second-guessing the OP's decision that the particular schoolgroup at hand simply had too many unruly, undisciplined kids to comfortably deal with; I'd back off myself from agreeing to any outreach situation where I wasn't confident I could stay comfortably on top of the group I was supposedly doing it for. In the OPs case, I agree it's wise to turn the gig down, regardless of whether any of the rest of us might judge the situation the same way for ourselves if we were there.

The story another poster told about an outreach event at a park where some kid picked up pebbles and threw them at a fellow club-member's scope is frankly a bit unnerving, because it shows that it's impossible to guard against all risk that a kid might do something impulsively destructive before you can stop them. The closest I came to a difficult situation with someone I couldn't confidently control wasn't a school outreach, but rather one night down at the beach when I'd taken my former XT8 scope out on one of the wooden boardwalks that ran from the street through a low maritime forest out to the dunes and beach strand. I was there for my own observing, but I was gladly sharing views with any interested passers-by. At the very end of the session as I was packing up my gear to take it back to the car, a large middle-aged gentleman came along who was staying in one of the nearby cottages, and who had clearly had too many pina coladas. He was a friendly drunk, and insisted on being helpful carrying my gear back to my car. I wasn't concerned he had any possible intent to make off with any of my gear, but I was concerned that his motor skills weren't exactly 100%. Despite his bona fide friendliness I could tell from his determination to be helpful that he had potential to become belligerent if he took my refusal of his help as an insult. And so, I reluctantly let him carry the base while I carried the OTA. He got about fifty feet with the base, lost his balance, and fell over with it into the soft sand beside the boardwalk. Fortunately, no real harm was done to the base except that I had to spend an hour the next morning cleaning all the sand out of it and the az bearings. Other than that night, I've never had any problems (so far) at any sort of formal or informal outreach situation, but you never know.

Edited by FirstSight (01/03/13 12:53 PM)


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Jeff Porter
super member
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Reged: 09/03/10

Loc: Utah
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: JayinUT]
      #5615086 - 01/10/13 09:05 AM

I enjoy the outreach aspect of observing, especially when it is near full moon and I am not headed out to a dark sky site.

Like most I have a number of scopes. If I am doing outreach at one of the National Parks or a star party that is likely to be more educational and discussion oriented, then I take my better equipment and eyepieces. If i know that there will be a lot of elementary age kids where education and discussion is minimal, I will take a XT6 and a 25mm plossl for the kids to use.

The height of the XT6 is just right for most and the size is very manageable. What I like to do is to give the kids an easy target like the moon or a planet, and then challenge them to find the target in the eyepiece. They love this. The satisfaction of finding an object on their own is often greater than just looking at it through the scope. I do let the kids and parents know that if they want to explore and touch a telescope, that mine is the one that they need to come back to, and that they should not experiment with the other scopes on the field. I have always had a very positive response from the kids and their parents in this situation.

Jeff P


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Mr. Bill
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Reged: 02/09/05

Loc: Northeastern Cal
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5615302 - 01/10/13 11:23 AM

Quote:

I've noted over the years that teachers of the younger kids often like to give observing sessions a party atmosphere, providing hot chocolate, cookies, and other treats. We always start out with a safety and etiquette talk to set a proper tone, and I always extend the lens shade to minimize the risk of sticky fingers brushy against my scope's corrector.




Hummm....a bunch of kids jacked up on sugar. That might explain unruley behavior.



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Joe F Gafford
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/15/06

Loc: Denver, Colorado, US
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Mr. Bill]
      #5615535 - 01/10/13 01:26 PM

My club did a shopping mall only once at the mall manager's request. This was a daytime display with club info, general astronomy and various type of scopes. The kids wanted to ride the Dobbie. A mall is a drop off place to keep the kids out of their parent's hair. These kids were unruly to say the least. This was in the 1980's, We hadn't done a mall since.
My club does external outreach to schools, national parks, and corporate. We do give a lecture beforehand to the teachers and kids. They all know to what to expect.
The internal outreach open house at the observatory is a different matter. Inside the observatory, we can have good crowd control. Outside on the lawn it is a city park which we have little crowd control. Kids are running around, tripping over accessory boxes that are not close to the scope mounts.
The more troublesome were the adults! The college students from frats nearby sometimes bring their beer over. Imagine a looped frat boy holding a glass of beer trying to look into the eyepiece on an open frame Newtonian with the mirror visible.
The park is for dog walking as well. One night a fellow was walking his two large German shepherds, lets say the dogs were walking him. One of the dogs looped a scope tripod and knocked it over with an expensive refractor on it. The owner of the scope went down as well as the scope fell on top of him. He had hip surgery and there was a slight sprain elsewhere and the scope had light damage and the mount, moderate. The fellow with the dogs was confronted and the fellow was very defensive about it being a public park an "I can walk anywhere". We had to let him go. We were over 60 vs. a 30 something with two large, loyal dogs.

Joe


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Mr. Bill
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Reged: 02/09/05

Loc: Northeastern Cal
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Joe F Gafford]
      #5615573 - 01/10/13 01:43 PM

I think a general comment would be a definite decline in public behavior the last 20-30 years.

Stopped going to sports events and music festivals years ago after witnessing some pretty ugly scenes.



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csrlice12
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Mr. Bill]
      #5616997 - 01/11/13 10:39 AM

yup. Pretty much gotten to the point that I've given up on public venues (except plays, I still go to plays). Probably why I like astronomy....nothing like being alone with the universe...it brings me peace.

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dpwoos
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Reged: 10/18/06

Loc: United States
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Mr. Bill]
      #5617086 - 01/11/13 11:29 AM

Quote:

I think a general comment would be a definite decline in public behavior the last 20-30 years.

Stopped going to sports events and music festivals years ago after witnessing some pretty ugly scenes.






I have to disagree 100%, and am uncomfortable with this kind of negative generalization. I think that, for some reason, some folks in every generation engage in criticizing young folks en mass, and I don't buy into that at all. My grandparents did it, and my parents did it, but that doesn't resonate with me at all. The behavior that I see is generally better than when I was a kid, and so I find it easy to be upbeat. I look forward to doing as much public observing and outreach as I can find time for. I am sorry that not everybody shares in this attitude, as it enriches my enjoyment of astronomy immensely. Maybe I am just a happy idiot?!


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tedbnh
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: New Hampshire
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5617133 - 01/11/13 11:51 AM

Quote:

Maybe I am just a happy idiot?!




If so, then there are at least two of us! :-) I enjoy public outreach every chance I get. Kids need to be told the rules, then they generally follow them. If not, I remind them. For sidewalk astronomy there is never a problem. When we set up at at night at a school near their normal daytime playground, it's understandable that they are likely to run around more, that's what they do there every day. We just have to remind them not to run around near the scopes. It works out fine.


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Mr. Bill
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Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5617515 - 01/11/13 04:06 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I think a general comment would be a definite decline in public behavior the last 20-30 years.

Stopped going to sports events and music festivals years ago after witnessing some pretty ugly scenes.






I have to disagree 100%, and am uncomfortable with this kind of negative generalization. I think that, for some reason, some folks in every generation engage in criticizing young folks en mass, and I don't buy into that at all. My grandparents did it, and my parents did it, but that doesn't resonate with me at all. The behavior that I see is generally better than when I was a kid, and so I find it easy to be upbeat. I look forward to doing as much public observing and outreach as I can find time for. I am sorry that not everybody shares in this attitude, as it enriches my enjoyment of astronomy immensely. Maybe I am just a happy idiot?!




I wasn't specifically talking about kids...IMO a decline in civility of the general population. Certainly seemed like a lot of bad behavior cited above (and the "Unruley Kids" thread) and not just kids.

Hey, I'm not trying to be Debbie Downer; if outreach is your thing, by all means enjoy. I've done my share in the past.

Edited by Mr. Bill (01/11/13 04:08 PM)


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edwincjones
Close Enough
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Reged: 04/10/04

Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5620239 - 01/13/13 07:25 AM

Quote:

.............. Probably why I like astronomy....nothing like being alone with the universe...it brings me peace.







edj


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edwincjones
Close Enough
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Reged: 04/10/04

Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5620241 - 01/13/13 07:33 AM

outreach is like planting a seed
you hope it grows
-maybe a new Einstein
-maybe enjoyment for some
-one's own pleasure
one never knows the results

edj


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ed_turco
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Reged: 08/29/09

Loc: Lincoln, RI
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5620569 - 01/13/13 11:26 AM

Let me tell you about raising my kid. When he was 8, he finally asked what I was doing grinding and polishing. I asked him where all my other telescopes came from. He answered quickly, "The Stork?". Sly sense oh humor, that kid. In any case he said that he'd go crazy doing all that work, and I responded that it took a lot of work for anyone's telescope, whether he made it or not.

So when I took him to my astronomy club, he was so careful around telescopes, it was generously remarked upon. What they didn't know is that I told him, just in case he didn't remember, he'd have to deal with his Old Man when he got home if anything went wrong because of him.

He came a few more times and decided he didn't like astronomy. (Sigh.)

But I still love him just the same! And we go out together on Father's Day to celebrate that we now both are fathers

Ed


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Tim Gilliland
professor emeritus


Reged: 03/28/09

Loc: Sand Springs Okla.
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: tedbnh]
      #5629477 - 01/18/13 08:35 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Maybe I am just a happy idiot?!




If so, then there are at least two of us! :-) I enjoy public outreach every chance I get. Kids need to be told the rules, then they generally follow them. If not, I remind them. For sidewalk astronomy there is never a problem. When we set up at at night at a school near their normal daytime playground, it's understandable that they are likely to run around more, that's what they do there every day. We just have to remind them not to run around near the scopes. It works out fine.




Make it three, 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. It is a VERY rewarding experiance for me.


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oldtimer
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Reged: 11/13/08

Loc: Lake County Illinois
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: gillmj24]
      #5629863 - 01/18/13 12:21 PM

First and formost your time is just that 'Your Time'. You can choose to do outreach or not. The two clubs I currently belong to do many outreach events. For personal, sociol and religious reasons I do not do 'strictly' scouting or church events. I choose only to do outreach events in sccular settings like public schools and libraries where my comments do not need to be guarded.

Secondly I will not do events where the audience (especially kids) have not been pew-briefed on proper observing etiquette or where I think the crowd will be too large for the number of club volunteers.

But I'm old and cranky.


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csrlice12
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: oldtimer]
      #5630086 - 01/18/13 03:10 PM

Secular, "pew" briefed audience????

Sorry, just couldn't help point that freudian slip out....

Edited by csrlice12 (01/18/13 03:12 PM)


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Jon Isaacs
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5630511 - 01/18/13 08:03 PM

Quote:

Maybe I am just a happy idiot?!






I can say with confidence that our three sons, the youngest is 36, gave my wife and I far fewer heartaches and headaches than I gave my parents...

As I write this, I am saying no to an outreach with a bunch of kids at a school.. It's not because I don't want to go, I was so looking forward to it... It's just this darn flu, it's got me and I can't even go out in the backyard.

Jon


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BarbMoore
sage
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Reged: 05/11/09

Loc: South central New Mexico
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5630814 - 01/18/13 11:32 PM

Our group does monthly outreach at a local state park. Just because some kids can get unruly doesn't mean I don't enjoy sharing my telescopes with others. I just have no problem speaking up if I see any possible dangers afoot.

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GeneT
Ely Kid
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Reged: 11/07/08

Loc: South Texas
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: gillmj24]
      #5637578 - 01/22/13 07:19 PM

One thing that needs to be done is laying out some ground rules when doing outreach to school age children. Our San Antonio Astronomy club does a lot of school outreach, with very few problems. However, you do need to get, and maintain control of the situation.

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dale67cameron
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Reged: 01/03/12

Loc: Midwest
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: GeneT]
      #5641430 - 01/24/13 08:41 PM

I enjoy doing outreach. I set my tripod extended fairly high, so that kids can't touch the glass on my scope. Then i set up a step ladder for the kids to step up on and hang on to the ladder when viewing. I had a kid grab the handle on my meade 10" sct tube and swing down off the ladder hanging on to it to exit a few months ago. It threw the alignment off since it slipped the clutches on my eq6, but fortunately didn't cause any damage. I realigned and was back in business for the rest of the evening. I have been more selective in volunteering since. I tend to volunteer more for adult groups when I am taking one of my nicer scopes. I am going to setup my 4" refractor on a alt az mount for large groups of kids in the future. I won't be as uneasy about a little acrobat showing up again.

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Raginar
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: gillmj24]
      #5673785 - 02/11/13 10:29 AM

You could ask to sink a simple wooden pier near the school that you could mount your scope on. Takes the necessity of watching the tripod out of the mix.

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Kraus
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/10/12

Loc: Georgia.
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Mr. Bill]
      #5722713 - 03/09/13 05:43 PM


You are not in the wrong. Helping is OK but the receiver must be gracious. I see none in your situation. Enjoy the sky.


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skinnyonce
super member
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Reged: 03/23/11

Loc: ohio
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Mr. Bill]
      #5722944 - 03/09/13 08:24 PM

Yes,, I also agree with this as a reason for my lack of public participation...

Quote:

I think a general comment would be a definite decline in public behavior the last 20-30 years.

Stopped going to sports events and music festivals years ago after witnessing some pretty ugly scenes.






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MattT
sage


Reged: 04/20/06

Loc: SF Bay Area
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: skinnyonce]
      #5723847 - 03/10/13 12:49 PM

I enjoy outreach but don't do many elementary schools anymore. In my area at least, these events are usually all-school events where only a few kids are actually interested in the scopes, and most are more excited about the novelty of running around the schoolyard at night. I don't blame them....they're just kids. To use the OP example of an event at a K-5 school, maybe limit the astronomy event to grades 4-5, where you might expect a little more maturity.

But outreach events can be fun even for fairly young children, if they and/or their parents are genuinely interested in what we have to offer. Oftentimes it's not just the kids, but the mother or dad or grandparent or teacher who's getting their first look through a decent telescope, and if you believe in outreach that's an opportunity not to be missed. Maybe have an advance signup for the telescope viewing, so only kids or families with some interest have access. If it's at a general school event, maybe set up the scopes in a quiet area off to the side and give the kids who sign up early a star-shaped sticker-badge or something that will be fun, and give them access - when escorted by an adult - to the telescope area.

Just thinking out loud....in the end if a person doesn't feel comfortable, safe or appreciated you're under no obligation. Clear and peaceful skies to you all!


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Kraus
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/10/12

Loc: Georgia.
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: MattT]
      #5753682 - 03/24/13 11:04 AM


I think outreach programs are operated backwards. If someone is interested, they'll come to me. Me going to them is futile. You can't pique interest if it ain't there.


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Patrick
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/16/03

Loc: Franklin, Ohio
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: gillmj24]
      #5753728 - 03/24/13 11:26 AM

Kids will be kids, no matter who or where they are. As a presenter, it's our jobs to talk with the teachers, parents and kids to lay down any necessary ground rules. Before we let kids do any observing through our expensive gear, we tell them the rules...no touching the telescopes, no running around the scopes, no white lights etc. If they have a wanted disregard for the rules, there's a good chance they're going to get scolded and the entire school not get on the list for next years star party.

Patrick


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SkipW
sage


Reged: 02/03/11

Loc: Oklahoma, USA
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Kraus]
      #5754068 - 03/24/13 01:54 PM

Quote:


I think outreach programs are operated backwards. If someone is interested, they'll come to me. Me going to them is futile. You can't pique interest if it ain't there.



Wouldn't that be "inreach"?


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Skylook123
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Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Kraus]
      #5754352 - 03/24/13 04:02 PM

Quote:


I think outreach programs are operated backwards. If someone is interested, they'll come to me. Me going to them is futile. You can't pique interest if it ain't there.




That would seem exquisitely short sighted. Interest doesn't grow in a vacuum, nor from darkness without exposure. In the last two years alone, by doing outreach events at local schools, we've had nine families with 18 children join our club's family education program. They didn't know they were interested until we went to them.

Because our grandchilren live far away from us, I didn't know what their interest was in astronomy so I re-built a 10" dob and took it to Colorado for their family three years ago. Three of the oldest four are now teaching astronomy to visitors at parks. Thirteen year old Stephen asked to come down here to join me at a local event, and using some of my spare equipment he taught both solar observing in daytime and night sky wonders at the Astronomy Magazine Tucson star party, as well as two school events and Univ. of Ariz. astronomy students' first night events.

And his older sisters, now 18 and 17 and both black belt Tai Kwan Do instructors and one a hot air balloon pilot, have been running my scopes at the Grand Canyon Star Party for two years. They are very adept at explaining stellar life cycles, visible planet facts, double star behavior and color meanings, and the nature of planetary nebulae. I never would have known of their hidden abilities if I hadn't dropped the scope off with them.

Speaking of which, about 110 of us astronomers work with over 1,400 visitors each night on the South Rim for a week each June. WE are coming to THEM, and the response is tremendous. I get a couple of dozen unsolicited emails from visitors in the weeks after each year's events talking about the life altering awakening. I've even heard from families helping start school science clubs after returning from their vacations. The best galaxy observer I know had no real interest or awareness of astronomy fifty years ago in Chicago and was kind of aimless going through school, but a local amateur invited science students to a local park to do some observing. It changed Paul's life. Not only did the experience open his mind, he actually fealt a musical inspiriation. He now is a concert pianist and piano teacher as well as having built his own sixteen inch reflector and machined a Beyers style equatorial mount. Several years ago, when we were planning future dates for GCSP and pondering the effect of the moon on the early evenings with visitors versus late evening for the astronomers, he pushed us to favor the limited lunar impingement for the visitors. His closing statement was, "You never know what one life you'll touch." And at least ten percent of the visitors to my scopes say something along the lines of they didn't even know this sort of activity existed.

It's certainly not a character flaw to not want to do outreach. We astronomers tend to flock to the solitary exploration of the sky. Perfectly OK to say no to outreach. But if one enjoys the interaction and seeing the awakening, and, like me, you've seen all the faint fuzzies you care to, it sure is interesting to see some of them all over again through new eyes. As Paul said, you never know what one life you might touch. But part one is going to them; they don't know what they don't know.


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Spacetravelerx
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5764147 - 03/29/13 10:32 AM

Well my quick 2 cents of chiming in...

* I have done outreach with the whole range of ages at schools including brothers, sisters, parents, grand parents, etc. Nothing but highly positive and fun. Many adults even shake my hand thanking me for the opportunity. I thank them for letting me share with them!

* For the big events (Annular Eclipse, Transit of Venus) out in public places the crowds were very well behaved and LOTS of questions. People were mesmerized. New friends to be made. Telescopes, laptops, eyepieces survived, lol!

* I still go to concerts - Moody Blues was an amazing concert. And most of the old timers (98% were 45 and up) were well behaved ;-) Even have seen Cold Play, Pit Bull, Neil Young, etc. Fine concerts. No problems at all.

* BTW - biggest non astro question at the outreach events. You must be rich! How much does that rig cost??!?

* Second biggest question - "Are you a professional astronomer? NO? You just do this for fun??!?"

Maybe it is the region? Community? Cloudy day/night for all the negative vibes for some others? For my family and I we have a blast sharing and interacting with the community.


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davidpitre
Post Laureate
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Reged: 05/10/05

Loc: Central Texas
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5784316 - 04/07/13 05:05 PM

Certainly no one has any obligation to do outreach, and I suppose it takes certain personality types to pull it off. I generally observe by myself, but outreach is something very different (isn't this the outreach forum?).
After many many events with much expensive equipment, I can say I have never had any real problems of significance. I have done events with ghetto kids to privileged private schools, and found kids are generally respectful and almost always self-controlled at the scope when given proper directives. Get teachers to help, and give everyone clear instructions about what to do and what not to do.


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Ebyl
super member


Reged: 07/04/12

Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Kraus]
      #5784447 - 04/07/13 06:10 PM

Quote:


I think outreach programs are operated backwards. If someone is interested, they'll come to me. Me going to them is futile. You can't pique interest if it ain't there.




Many people don't realize they have an interest in something until presented with an opportunity to explore that subject. I've personally seen this played out over and over regarding astronomy.

People may also know they have a potential interest, but just never take the time to give themselves the opportunity to explore it. Sometimes that means the interest will never turn into much even if given a chance, but not always. Sometimes if presented with an opportunity, the interest will develop into a part of their lives.

That's what outreach is for - giving people a chance to discover or further develop an interest in astronomy when the they're not taking that initial step for whatever reason. It's an extremely important aspect of the hobby, but not one an amateur astronomer must participate in. It's right for some people and wrong for others.


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PaulEK
sage
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Reged: 05/25/08

Loc: Wisconsin
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Ebyl]
      #5800322 - 04/15/13 11:34 AM

I work with kids every day, and have for thirty years. I find that, as long as I am firm and clear, they will meet bare requirements for behavior, especially if I have control over something they are interested in. And I've met very few kids who were not interested in the chance to look through a telescope, or going into my portable planetarium. I always make sure that everyone -- including the adults -- understands that there will be consequences for not following the rules. I've only had significant problems a few times, and in thinking about it, it's always been with the adults supposedly in charge of the group. It's tough to get kids to follow your directions when the adults they look to are not backing you up.

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BigC
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 09/29/10

Loc: SE Indiana
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: PaulEK]
      #5800524 - 04/15/13 01:21 PM

Agree with "adults are the problem";children push to the limits,and if adults don't do their job as parents and insist on apropiate behavior there will be trouble.And not just at astronomy outreach.

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Matthew Ota
Hmmm


Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Los Angeles, California
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: BigC]
      #5857217 - 05/13/13 11:06 AM

The second most common question after asking how much does the scope cost is... how much does it weigh? I tell them it weighs about four grunts...which is what it takes to load and unload it from my truck.

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omahaastro
sage


Reged: 08/30/06

Loc: Omaha, NE
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: Matthew Ota]
      #5872515 - 05/19/13 09:21 PM

Grumpy old men and kids don't mix.

I've done several hundred outreach events, in all imaginable venues, downtown, 4H camps, driveway, vineyards, symphony concerts, museums, city parks, state parks, ... suburban kids, inner city kids, home schooled, scouts, minorities, 'troubled', they're all great.


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hfjacinto
I think he's got it!
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Reged: 01/12/09

Loc: Land of clouds and LP
Re: saying no to outreach new [Re: omahaastro]
      #5873485 - 05/20/13 11:02 AM

I love doing outreach... BUT I hate doing it for scouts. I just won't. The public is 99% of the time great and many manage the kids really well. Whenever the local community college asks for help I am there, but when our clubs asks for help with scouts I don't do it. Not to generalize but some of these kids are wild and parents don't watch them. Again not every kid but the average seems less behaved compared to families.

Just this Friday I set up my scope and a family with 2 young kids came by they stayed almost an hour and were great. I never did a grammar school and I would be leery about doing it also.


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