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What would be your approach to getting kids involved in astronomy?

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#26 Feidb

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Posted 12 December 2015 - 02:47 PM

Back to my serious side. I never specifically bought a thing for kids I didn't already have, or got some other way. They (or should I say "he") inherited what he has, plain and simple.

 

He's asked for bigger and better but I know better. With a garage full of scopes that I never use, I don't need another one to add to that.

 

Since he goes with me every time I go out, half the time he never cracks the box on his scope. When he does, he often sets it up and never uses it unless there is a crowd of people he can show something to.

 

Maybe that will change since I added the red dot finder. Maybe tonight if we go out...come to think of it.

 

I know how kids are and I also know what turns them off. I also know whether they have a natural affinity for astrominny or whether it needs to be nurtured to become something more.

 

In this case, he needs to be nurtured so I have to take it slow and easy. No need to break the bank when I already have plenty of gear to choose from.

 

It also needs to be fun, not a lot of work and effort, at least to start out with.


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#27 orion61

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Posted 12 December 2015 - 03:31 PM

You know come to think of it, people were always very impressed when I knew the names and locations of Constellations and Bright Stars. A few compliments from people go a long way in learning something new.

And a simple pair of Binoculars are always useful day or night, and $30.00 goes a lot further today with binoculars than it used to.



#28 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 12 December 2015 - 03:52 PM

Everybody has gotten close, but the bottom line is, "Your Time".

Nothing is as inexpensive, or as Valuable.

 

 

:bow:   :goodjob: :waytogo: :bow:

 

 

Duane:

 

Really, what more is there to say?

 

I know that you and Hanna spend a lot of time together out under the stars..  How lucky she is.  I know you have some fine equipment for Hanna to look through but it's not the equipment, it's your time that is most valuable.

 

I have deep memories of my father pointing out the constellations and the names of the stars..  He passed away before I became so interested in the night sky but in some way, I think he is right there with me as I observe the great miracles that are the universe..

 

Jon 


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#29 orion61

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Posted 14 December 2015 - 09:55 PM

I think any Telescope would be good for you to buy, just as long as the thing is Diffraction Limited!

I love the Orion Starblast mini Dob, or the Astronomy without Borders, Just add in one hour Certificates for your time,

they can redeem, Signed by YOU! In INK!!

 

As I read these Boards the same theme come up time after time, and just about every positive comment comes down to

someone saying "My favorite time was -______ (fill in blank), with my Dad".

I know how hard it is to make time and supporting your family takes so much time, but I didn't have my Dad around a lot.

I Cherished the time I got to be with him. I swore to GOD I would Make Time for Hannah, I don't care what it is or what we do.

That goes for Nephews Grandchildren, too. Family and Friends are the most important things in the World. You can't BUY time.

So many times I hear "We didn't have a lot of money growing up", but the next statement is nearly of love and time spent.

If you go out of your way and pick up a pair of $5 Rummage sale Binoculars, the 20 hours talking, teaching, and sometimes learning, are what are going to be what is remembered. People today have become so totally SOLD on commercialisation

we are the Worlds most Stuff oriented Civilization in History.

 One time I remember so well is I told My Dad a silly Joke, and I was so proud when I heard him repeat it to a couple people! He'd always ask me if he could tell "my " joke. That made me so Proud, and taught me a great lesson, HE listened to ME, and learned something from ME!. (BTW the Joke was "Where does the Lone Ranger take his garbage"? ANSWER: "To the DUMP, TO THE DUMP, TO THE DUMP-DUMP-DUMP")....... in the Lone Rangers theme....

I have quite a few friends here, but ONE great friend in my life is here on the Boards, that person knows how much I care, and how his gesture moved me. even tho we have never met face to face, That person knows how special of a person,and difference made in MY life, at a time, when I was very much in serious need of a pick up in life. how much I appreciate the friendship!. I have tried to let my new pal know he made an impact on 2 folks that week. AND actually JUMPSTARTED things... My Daughters Grades went up the next report card.. we started talking more, and she listened!

My Daughter asked if she could send a detailed message to this person. I thought it was a great thing to do, I told her to compose the letter in her head so she was writing something that was thought out..After she wrote it, she asked me to check it and look at the spelling, I told her if I changed anything it wouldn't be hers anymore but ours. That isn't what we wanted. I did skim through it, and I couldn't have been prouder.

The bond has been set and the glue is solid.

I think any Telescope would be good for you to buy, just as long as the thing is Diffraction Limited!

I love the Orion Starblast mini Dob, or the Astronomy without Borders, Just add in one hour Certificates for your time,

they can redeem, Signed by YOU! In INK!!

Cheers,

Duane



#30 Meadeball

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Posted 14 December 2015 - 10:19 PM

You know, many clubs (including mine, and we're by no means a biggie) have loaner scopes available to members. If money spent vs. "catching the bug" is a big issue, why not join the local club with your son or daughter -- make that the Christmas gift with the promise of a scope in a few months -- and check out a loaner scope -- maybe keep it for a month and then swap it for another optical design if it's available? That way you could (a) gauge your child's interest, and (b) decide which scope and/or mount design is the one for you, with minimal investment (i.e. club dues only). Then, if and when you break out the plastic, both of you will have some experience under your belts, have spent valuable time together, begun learning the sky, and be prepared to purchase the scope that's a keeper.

 

Just a thought!


Edited by Meadeball, 14 December 2015 - 10:21 PM.

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#31 orion61

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Posted 14 December 2015 - 10:31 PM

The Swap Scope is a great idea. Ours had an old Meade 826 made into a Dob, that thing was superb.

Yours is a great idea. Who knows what kids will like these days.. Perhaps a video game in the readout....



#32 kfiscus

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 10:32 AM

One rule I live by-  "You cannot make someone love something but you can sure make them hate it."  Something as personal and involved as the love of astronomy is has to be by choice.


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#33 aeajr

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 12:24 PM

You know, many clubs (including mine, and we're by no means a biggie) have loaner scopes available to members. If money spent vs. "catching the bug" is a big issue, why not join the local club with your son or daughter -- make that the Christmas gift with the promise of a scope in a few months -- and check out a loaner scope -- maybe keep it for a month and then swap it for another optical design if it's available? That way you could (a) gauge your child's interest, and (b) decide which scope and/or mount design is the one for you, with minimal investment (i.e. club dues only). Then, if and when you break out the plastic, both of you will have some experience under your belts, have spent valuable time together, begun learning the sky, and be prepared to purchase the scope that's a keeper.

 

Just a thought!

 

 

This is a real good thought.   However check!   I have not joined a club yet, but I will.  When I only had an 80 mm refractor I asked the club if they had loaners for members.  They do, but only after you have been a member for a year. 



#34 drollere

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Posted 17 December 2015 - 10:44 AM

a useful way to rephrase this question is to imagine that you give the child a shotgun in order to interest him or her in game shooting.

 

the gun, in itself, creates a lot of task and equipment training, and presumes an interest that the child may simply not share. the two things, in combination, create an adult imperative to learn something that the adult has chosen as the objective.

 

my interest in astronomy was kindled by a random hiking encounter, in sequoia national park, with an amateur and his home made reflector. he showed me saturn, at the time with rings on splendid display, and the sight of the thing fixed my interest forever.

 

is the child you're giving this equipment to *already* interested in astronomy, asking questions about it, eager to learn more? instead of asking for suggestions for equipment that fits into an adult specified budget, you might ask what fits into the child's natural scope of interest. for some children, a microscope, or chemistry set, or dissection kit, or kinetic sculpture, may be a more direct stimulation to a science passion.


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#35 JMW

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Posted 17 December 2015 - 05:12 PM

Take them to interesting places to backpack or car camp under beautifully dark skies. Some of the western national parks are a good example of a fun place to go to that also has dark skies. Start by enjoying the skies naked eye and point out several easy to pick out constellations or brighter stars. If car camping bring binoculars or a telescope and show some fun stuff. 

 

Spending several nights under a new moon in a area with very dark skies will generate an appreciation for the night sky that is hard to appreciate from any city.


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#36 orion61

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 03:31 PM

I agree on the cant make them take an interest. My advice is to make your Child's interests your own instead of the other way around. Heck I even learned to make a Rubber Band key Chain on a rainbow Loom.. My Daughter Laughed her little butt off watching me with my bumble fingers... It was a good day!

My interests started with a cheap pair of binoculars bought for me, That first view of the Moon and those Craters!! WOW!

It made it special being MY Binoculars.


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#37 aeajr

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 05:51 PM

I agree on the cant make them take an interest. My advice is to make your Child's interests your own instead of the other way around. Heck I even learned to make a Rubber Band key Chain on a rainbow Loom.. My Daughter Laughed her little butt off watching me with my bumble fingers... It was a good day!

My interests started with a cheap pair of binoculars bought for me, That first view of the Moon and those Craters!! WOW!

It made it special being MY Binoculars.

 

There is a great deal of pride in ownership and once they are yours you want to use them.  ;)



#38 tchandler

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 08:12 AM

One thing I've noticed is that many kids have an innate interest in astronomy, in much the same way they find animals, weather, volcanoes, or any other aspect of the natural world to be interesting. If this is indeed the case, the question then becomes: what can I do to prevent this curiousness from being doused and keep that "oh-so-fragile flame" burning? I fully agree that part of the answer, as has been alluded above, is time. That, and setting the example that learning about the world is not "uncool", as it were. Learn everything you can about the natural world yourself and then pass this information on when if and when it is asked of you. And part of the answer is in being very creative. For example, arrange activities that stimulate the asking of questions, such as spending an evening under dark skies, on a comfy chaise lounge with hot chocolate of course, while overhead shooting stars do their thing. You might make a few nice memories to boot!


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#39 havasman

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 12:28 PM

I give their parents a OneSky and a few ep's when the kids are 1 or 2, telling them it will just be something that's in the way until one day, hopefully, it will be something the kids are interested in. I explain the universal training technique of using a toilet paper tube to show them how to look into an eyepiece. Then I forget about it.

One of the parents recently got back to me saying their oldest girl (almost 4) has recently been commenting on the moon, that it may be scope time soon and that they have a few tubes saved for the moment. That was very gratifying.



#40 aeajr

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 12:14 PM

Interesting report of a Grandpa who gave his daughter a 4" scope and let her use a pair of 7X35 binoculars.   Seems she took to the binoculars over the scope.

http://www.cloudynig...r/#entry6960486

 

Children are wonderful and the time spent with them is even better.



#41 csrlice12

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 01:38 PM

Well, to be truthful, given the weather over the past couple of years....I'd get them involved with cloud identification....more opportunity for viewing.....


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#42 Man in a Tub

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 01:45 PM

Well, to be truthful, given the weather over the past couple of years....I'd get them involved with cloud identification....more opportunity for viewing.....

 

Cloud Appreciation Society

 

This is for real. A CN member told me about this site several years ago.

 

:step:



#43 Meadeball

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 03:25 PM

 

Well, to be truthful, given the weather over the past couple of years....I'd get them involved with cloud identification....more opportunity for viewing.....

 

Cloud Appreciation Society

 

This is for real. A CN member told me about this site several years ago.

 

:step:

 

 

Is their forum called Starry Skies? :lol:


Edited by Meadeball, 24 December 2015 - 03:26 PM.

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#44 csrlice12

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 04:05 PM

All I know is the cloud lovers are winning.........



#45 StarWolf57

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 09:02 PM

I don't think you need anything at all except time, a little enthusiasm and a sense of wonder. Take them to a place where they can experience dark skies. I was fortunate in that we often went camping with our kids in the Sierras which have very dark skies. We would sit out together and talk about what was out there. I did the same with my Dad when I was young.

 

It must have worked, one went on to be an astrophysicist :)


Edited by StarWolf57, 24 December 2015 - 09:03 PM.


#46 Rick Woods

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Posted 26 December 2015 - 05:27 PM

The Swap Scope is a great idea. Ours had an old Meade 826 made into a Dob, that thing was superb.

Yours is a great idea.

 

Argh, sacrilege! Why would you take an 826 off that sturdy GEM it came on??

 

(And yeah - superb is the word I use, too! My favorite of all my scopes.)



#47 sg6

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Posted 27 December 2015 - 11:49 AM

I would say several small scopes that they can get their hands on to try and to use. You want them to do astronomy and a simple scope will allow that, and not scare the hell out of you when they use it, well not scare you too much.

 

I would however say at least one good scope, just to show what is capable.

 

They will like doing it their own thing and finding out on their own, but also will like to know further possibilities.

 

Additional to the equipment I suspect you are going to need a few additional people to help you.

 

I help out at a club with the public and it tends to be a case of speaking to 2 or 3 people at a time. Also kids will ask questions, they then have a habit that if you answered well they ask another, then another. Be prepared for the simple ones, Where is Polaris, where is Andromeda, maybe where is Orion and black holes. Occasionally one on cosmology. Have a bunch of what is generally totally useless facts.


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#48 aeajr

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Posted 27 December 2015 - 01:40 PM

SG6

 

I tend to agree with you.   Children are curious AND they have a tendency to test us with their questions.  We can't know everything but we can certainly be prepared with enough to get their interest and their trust.

 

And, once you  have their interest, giving them a piece of equipment that they can use and not be afraid to use can be very very important.  The pride of ownership is very strong in children.   Knowing "this is mine" instills a desire to explore and to learn.    That is why I listed low cost easy to handle items in the first post. 

 

Mom and Dad what to encourage junior.  What should they buy?   Some will suggest an 8" Dob or a 6" SCT.   I suggest binoculars or a travel scope for the elementary through middle school kids.  Things they can handle on their own.  Invite them to join you in exploration, spend time with them, but don't restrict them to exploring only when you are available.   

 

Let them show off what they learn and become your teacher.   When that happens it is a wonderful experience. 

 

One of my greatest joys in being a father has been to invite my children into a peer relationship with me over time.  Not by announcement but by action, letting them lead me, asking their advice, showing respect for their knowledge and their confidence as I guide them from the rear as they lead.   It has paid off huge dividends for both of us.

 

And then encouraging them to take on the leadership role among friends and family.   For when we teach is when we become the best students.  When we teach is when we learn the most.  Children respect their teachers and to invite them to become our teachers is one of the greatest show of respect we can give them.


Edited by aeajr, 27 December 2015 - 05:55 PM.

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#49 lamplight

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Posted 27 December 2015 - 02:09 PM

Unfortunately for me, my son was already about 13/14 when I (by chance) became interested in observing.. Can't teach them anything at the age he's @ now. Him and the wife refer to it as "my" hobby. Some other dynamics there but thats what it is for now.  There's always hope. The natural world is full of marvels though, perhaps something else will strike him one day , at just the right moment when he's receptive.   As it happens with me.  I will

 Find it hard not to be insulted if it turns out to be cloud appreciation ;) actually clouds ARE often beautiful to watch but I don't think I have to tell

 You its nowhere near my first choice.  

 

One thing I feel confident to recommend to other parents: never, ever, ever buy them a gaming system. Might as well buy them a crack pipe.  :undecided: im sure not ALL kids get so sucked in, but so many do. Never been one for games much myself.   


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#50 GeneT

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Posted 27 December 2015 - 04:28 PM

Show them the moon when it is phase, followed by Jupiter or Saturn, followed by a double star or two. They will be hooked, and willingly join you as partners in this great hobby.


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