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General Astronomy >> Outreach

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Hikari
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 01/05/11

Loc: Maine, USA
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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Reged: 01/05/11

Loc: Maine, USA
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
Postmaster
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Reged: 02/09/05

Loc: Northeastern Cal
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
Post Laureate
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Reged: 01/22/10

Loc: Sachse TX
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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Reged: 05/09/05

Loc: Southern California
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
Post Laureate
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Reged: 05/10/05

Loc: Central Texas
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
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 11/13/08

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

'BINGO"

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Skylook123
Postmaster
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Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Tucson, AZ
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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Reged: 02/09/05

Loc: Northeastern Cal
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
sage


Reged: 08/30/06

Loc: Omaha, NE
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
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
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
Post Laureate
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Reged: 04/01/07

Loc: South of the Mason-Dixon Line
Re: Wild and unruly kids new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5521127 - 11/15/12 12:22 PM Attachment (53 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
super member


Reged: 07/12/11

Loc: Chardon OH
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
Post Laureate
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Reged: 05/09/05

Loc: Southern California
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
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 01/10/08

Loc: California, Santa Cruz County
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
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 01/16/07

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
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 06/07/07

Loc: western Colorado
Re: Wild and unruly kids [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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