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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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torsinadoc
sage


Reged: 02/04/13

Loc: Fayetteville AR
What to get a 1st grader
      #5735556 - 03/16/13 05:49 AM

My niece has taken an interest in astronomy. She has already learned the phases of the moon. Im trying to decide what to get her as a gift to allow her to expand. Suggestions? Are their small binoculars for young kids? Are their fun programs for kids?

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Pinbout
Postmaster
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Reged: 02/22/10

Loc: nj
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: torsinadoc]
      #5735703 - 03/16/13 09:04 AM

an iPad mini

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RobertED
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Reged: 07/11/03

Loc: Smithfield, RI
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: Pinbout]
      #5735714 - 03/16/13 09:09 AM

An inexpensive 2.4" refractor...to be used at first under parental supervision....just go out with her and look at cool stuff like the Moon and planets. See if she really catches on. Granted, I was 11-12 when that same scope "hooked" me, and back in the early '70's, they really were inexpensive at Sears and places like that. Stay away from "toy" scopes such as those in the larger toy stores....look in camera shops and 'science' type shops.

....binoculars can be a little too confusing or complicated for kids....even some grown-ups!! Go as inexpensive as you can, in case she doesn't really catch on! You can always sell it on Cloudy Nights!! Best of luck to you ALL!!!


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Doc Willie
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Reged: 03/31/10

Loc: Mid-Hudson Valley, NY, USA
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: RobertED]
      #5735758 - 03/16/13 09:24 AM

Models of actual spacecraft.

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John Kuraoka
sage
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Reged: 12/12/12

Loc: Sunny San Diego, CA
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: RobertED]
      #5735778 - 03/16/13 09:32 AM

The most-important thing to give her? Your time.

Take your telescope or binoculars every time you get together and head outdoors for a little observing session. Then you can get a sense of what she's interested in, and adjust accordingly.

Books are good. The Basher science series might be a little advanced for a first-grader (or not, if she's an advanced reader), but the cartoony illustrations and kid-friendly writing style will attract interest.

Buying her a piece of gear that her parents won't use with her and she can't use on her own is, I think, unnecessary unless it would excite her interest just to have it in her room. (But then, there's value in that as well.)


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rdandrea
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 06/13/10

Loc: Colorado, USA DM59ra
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: John Kuraoka]
      #5735802 - 03/16/13 09:47 AM

Quote:

The most-important thing to give her? Your time.

Take your telescope or binoculars every time you get together and head outdoors for a little observing session. Then you can get a sense of what she's interested in, and adjust accordingly.

Books are good. The Basher science series might be a little advanced for a first-grader (or not, if she's an advanced reader), but the cartoony illustrations and kid-friendly writing style will attract interest.

Buying her a piece of gear that her parents won't use with her and she can't use on her own is, I think, unnecessary unless it would excite her interest just to have it in her room. (But then, there's value in that as well.)




Ditto. The only thing I might add is, do they make these anymore?
http://antiqueradio.org/spitz01.htm


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magic612
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Reged: 09/30/08

Loc: S. of Chicago's light dome
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: rdandrea]
      #5735914 - 03/16/13 10:33 AM

Consider an Orion Funscope. The aesthetic appeal to a child that age is clear. It is the right size that they can pick it up and move it easily. The alt-az motions are intuitive for them. The wide field of view means objects will stay in it for long periods of time, and make it easier for the child to see, and also to find things like the Moon (it comes with a simple red-dot finder). Plus, unlike binoculars, you can help aim it and then it will stay there on the object.

Yes, it has coma, but a 5 year old won't care about that. I did a rather lengthy review about the Funscope here - it is a surprisingly capable little instrument.


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RobertED
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Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: magic612]
      #5735978 - 03/16/13 11:02 AM

rdandrea and magic612 have excellent ideas!!!! I thoruoghly enjoyed the reviews on the ORION Funscope....BRAVO!! If it can see the objects listed in the review...then it must be awesome on the Moon, Jupiter & Saturn!!! I do think there are modernized "Bedroom Planetariums" still available....and those you probably can find in your local, large toy stores!!!
2 awesome ideas, guys!!!.....and the time spent with your 'budding young astronomer'......."priceless!!!!'....


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smallscopefanLeo
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Reged: 01/23/11

Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: RobertED]
      #5736084 - 03/16/13 11:44 AM

I think a funscope /firstscope 76mm is a fantastic idea as well. Also consider a baby-dob Orion 'Goscope'
http://www.telescope.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=102397 70mm
http://www.telescope.com/Telescopes/Refractor-Telescopes/Refractor-Telescopes... 80mm
refractor variant if the budget can stretch a bit more, that way it can be a bit more practical for observing nature during the daylight hours with as well (which we are invariably getting more and more of as we speak ).

And a nice small lightweight binocular with close enough IP distance is a great idea too, perhaps a scope AND binocular? Or is that spoiling too much .. perhaps spread it out and give some now, some at a later date.

And don't forget the books of course, my goodness! There are so many. Here is a potential one among the zillions to get you started browsing what's out there
http://www.amazon.com/National-Geographic-Little-First-Space/dp/1426310145/re... ...
That would be the second most important part (I tend to fixate on gear though first and foremost, sorry), second most after your time and energy, as John mentioned above!

I wish someone did this for me when I was a tot, lucky niece!!


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magic612
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Reged: 09/30/08

Loc: S. of Chicago's light dome
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: RobertED]
      #5736158 - 03/16/13 12:17 PM

Quote:

I thoruoghly enjoyed the reviews on the ORION Funscope....BRAVO!! If it can see the objects listed in the review...then it must be awesome on the Moon, Jupiter & Saturn!!!




Thank you - the thing to keep in mind for the planets with the Funscope is that it really needs a barlow or a decent, very short focal length eyepiece on the order of 3mm or 4mm. The focal length is VERY short, but it can manage up to 100x - 120x magnification. I have a 2.5mm TMB eyepiece that I bought (back when they were still available) which nets 120x on it. I recall timing how long I could see Saturn once, and it took 2.5 minutes to cross the field of view, even at that magnification.

It's not a bad little instrument - stable, portable, and yes, cute - it always attracts kids and even some moms when I take it to outreach events. But it does have it's shortcomings, most of which aren't too difficult to overcome though (and are generally easier to correct than those of wobbly-tripod, cheapie refractors).


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Scott in NC
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Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: John Kuraoka]
      #5736168 - 03/16/13 12:21 PM

Quote:

The most-important thing to give her? Your time.





+1

My time and an Orion Starblast 4.5" dob were very important factors in instilling an interest in astronomy in my then-kindergarten-aged son several years ago. The scope was a good match for him, but if I had just bought him the scope and turned him loose, I'm afraid to say that the scope would be just gathering dust in the closet. Because I spent a lot of time with him helping to foster this interest, he's eager to go out with me whenever I go out to observe, no matter how cold it is!


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droid
rocketman
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Reged: 08/29/04

Loc: Conneaut, Ohio
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: Scott in NC]
      #5736182 - 03/16/13 12:26 PM

+2 on spending time with her, show her stuff, explain , in language she will understand, what shes looking at. Make it interesting if possible.
Later as the interest blooms, if it does, you can think telescope.


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rdandrea
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 06/13/10

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Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: RobertED]
      #5736224 - 03/16/13 12:49 PM

Quote:

I do think there are modernized "Bedroom Planetariums" still available....




Yeah, there are. I just went Googling. They start at about $35. The Ioptron looks pretty cool.


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mantrain
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/22/11

Loc: San Diego
Re: What to get a 1st grader *DELETED* new [Re: rdandrea]
      #5736336 - 03/16/13 01:44 PM

Post deleted by tecmage

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GeneT
Ely Kid
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Reged: 11/07/08

Loc: South Texas
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: RobertED]
      #5736580 - 03/16/13 04:20 PM

Quote:

An inexpensive 2.4" refractor




I agree. Also, a three or four inch reflector might be possibilities.


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S.Boerner
sage


Reged: 04/29/10

Loc: Eastern Missouri
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: GeneT]
      #5736606 - 03/16/13 04:33 PM

Your time and work on the Astro League's Sky Puppy Program with her.
http://www.astroleague.org/al/obsclubs/skypuppy/skypuppy2.htm


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wirenut
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 09/21/06

Loc: m'dale Pa
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: GeneT]
      #5736618 - 03/16/13 04:40 PM

I kinda think your putting the cart infront of the horse if you buy her a scope now. It's been recommended a lot for people to learn the stars/constellations before they go out and spend money on a scope, cause they'll lose interest not know where to point it. So what about a planisphere? I cant think of a better teaching/learning aid for the constellations. I'm not sure if they'll be able to use it at that age without some assistance but I'm sure you could show her how easily enough. it also fit very nicely with that other recommendation spending time with them.

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Unknownastron
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Reged: 04/06/05

Loc: CatsEye Observatory,Rural Sout...
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: S.Boerner]
      #5736641 - 03/16/13 04:52 PM

Get her a copy of "Find the Constellations" by H. A. Rey. Read the book with her or to her if she isn't there yet (I was 9 and it was easy). Get her a red flashlight (Her own special flashlight), read the book in the backyard together after dark using the red light. Begin to learn the star patterns in the book with her. In strong light polluted areas the patterns are not easy to see but explain this to her and graduate when you can to a darker sky. If she continues with the interest for a couple of months get her a beginner scope. I concur with those posters who suggest the small newtonians mounted on alt-az, for the same reasons stated. She can carry and set it up herself, intuitive aiming and guiding, wide field. I definitely advise against a go-to scope as she may fall in love with gadgets and not astronomy (I know most of us love gadgets but the first love must be astronomy). Go slow and encourage her connections with the sky. That's what amateur astronomy is all about, making connections with the sky. Have a good journey!
Clear skies and clean glass,
Mike


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droid
rocketman
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Reged: 08/29/04

Loc: Conneaut, Ohio
Re: What to get a 1st grader *DELETED* new [Re: mantrain]
      #5736732 - 03/16/13 05:46 PM

Post deleted by tecmage

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John Lacey
member


Reged: 03/12/08

Loc: Central Coast, CA
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: droid]
      #5737070 - 03/16/13 08:02 PM

Books and time, yeah. We have a bunch of the DK Eye Wonder books. My son's favorite (and mine) was P.K. Chen's Constellation Album. It was not that deep, but it tied in well with actually looking at the constellations at night. He's joined me for many years when I go out.

I think equipment could be frustrating. Naked eye stuff like constellations, ISS, Iridium flares, even just identifying planets, etc. is great. Stay out long enough and random satellites and meteors are possible. I finally put Clear Sky Charts and ISS apps on my phone, which are far handier than the computer widgets and web sites. I think any way of encouraging looking at the sky is good.

My son had small binoculars, and they might have helped, but I'm not sure the visuals he managed to get were that encouraging. Despite years of looking through my scope, at ten, he's just starting to take an interest in the finder, and not yet interested in pointing the scope or even focusing the EP. On the other hand, I do think at some point having your own scope would help. I'm probably unconsciously a little defensive about mine, which might be holding my son back a little. Maybe I should get him one now, or perhaps I just need an upgrade to a 12" or 14" myself so he can have mine?

I don't have any direct experience with beginner scopes (except the universal frustration with the Sears refractor when I was young), but something like the StarBlast sounds good. You want something with real views: separate rings on Saturn, cloud bands on Jupiter, craters on the moon (OK not hard ), and some clusters and brighter nebulae.


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