On the plus side, I will be teaching an astronomy class tomorrow evening for teenage girls at camp. I always enjoy getting out into the wilderness, looking at the stars, & teaching, so by tomorrow night, I should be feeling good again.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Immediately upon finishing the class, I hurried home, put the telescopes away, and my husband and I headed off for Uprising. We got there just in time for dinner, missed court because we were setting up camp (it's very important to set up camp before dark), but I still had a couple of hours before it got dark enough for my class. It was intended for anyone, but got announced as a kid's activity, so most of the people there were kids, with a few parents along for the ride. The temperature was nice, we lasted about an hour before people started wanting to get back to campfires, myself included. There was one kid who kept interrupting, wanting to ask questions or add stuff about something I planned to talk about after first introducing a few basic concepts, to help people understand the later stuff better. It's cool when kids are so interested in things, but kind of frustrating when you know other people will be totally lost if you let things skip around too much. Oh well. The class went well overall, and I even had people all the rest of the weekend telling me they had wanted to come but either couldn't find us or thought it was just for kids. I guess I'll just have to volunteer to teach it again next year.
The best success of the last week, though has been that I've got another opportunity to teach. Girl's Camp, for the teenage girls at church, is next week, and the leader has asked me to come up and give an astronomy class for them. We're planning on Tuesday for that, weather permitting. I'll post here afterward about how that goes.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Michelle Larson, an adjunct professor from the USU Physics Department came and spoke for about half an hour about how she became an astronomer. She shared some images from the Yohkoh Public Outreach Project which she worked on. She brought a sunspots in visible light and X-rays matching game, which each student was able to take home with them, and a Solar Storm puzzle.
After Michelle left, we still had 45 minutes, and everything I had planned was already done, including the "extra, just in case things take less time than expected" sundials. So I gave everybody a blank sheet of paper, & used the overhead projector to explain, briefly, how telescopes work, & the three main types of telescopes. I drew, & had the kids copy, a diagram of a refractor telescope, a reflector telescope, and a catadioptic telescope. I passed my binoculars around as an example of a pair of small refractors, and showed them some of my sketches of Venus, Mars, Jupiter, & Saturn that I had made using my 8" Dob.
I am going to get paid for teaching this summer camp. I found out today that I need to turn in an invoice to the Logan City School District for it. So after I got home today, I made that up. I also made a survey for the kids to fill out at the end of the day tomorrow. Getting paid for doing what you love is awesome.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Once all the kids had picked a topic, we went down to the computer lab. Starting with Astronomy for Kids, they each read about the topic they had chosen, then used Google searches to find pictures, and sometimes more information, about their topic. I gave them an hour and a half to work on that, & those who finished sooner were given the choice of doing a second topic, or playing on Flash Planetarium, which I had used yesterday to help them learn to use their planispheres. They used a word processing program to make some notes & save their pictures, which I then saved to my jump drive. The last hour of Camp today, we went back to the classroom, I plugged my jump drive into the computer there that was connected to the projector, & they each gave a little 5 minute presentation on their topic.
I also did some preparation for the next couple of days. Tomorrow, Michelle Larson from the USU Physics Department, is coming to talk to the kids for about half an hour, so I talked to her about that, & also gave her directions to the room. I also talked to the Logan District Computer Specialists & arranged to get Stellarium on some computers for Thursday.
I think things are going really well.
ps. There is also a Harry Potter Camp going on at the same time, except it is 5 weeks long. They are mostly doing science activities. I talked to the guy in charge, & they are spending a week on astronomy. I got his e-mail address, so I'm going to try to keep in touch with him over the next year, & maybe get to be part of that next year.
Monday, June 14, 2010
The Star Parties are scheduled to start at 9:30pm.
Saturday afternoon, there was a Family & Children's Expo up at Utah State University. We had a booth, & probably about 100 people came by. A few kids tried out the Galileoscope or the Electromagnet, but the big hit was the Hydrolic Robot. It uses syringes with colored water to move various hinges, like an arm. The challenge for the kids was to work together to make the robot pick up Legos or pens & drop them in a box.
The Star Trek clubs in Northern Utah had a Giant Star Party scheduled all last weekend. My husband went with me out there on Saturday evening for dinner & visiting. Since is was overcast, we played a fast Star Wars Roleplaying Game round, which was fun. About 11:00, a few of the clouds cleared out, & we were able to see, in turn, Ophiucus, Scorpius, Delphinus, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, & Lyra. It never got clear enough to set up telescopes, though.
Today was the first day of the Astronomy Summer Camp. There were a dozen kids signed up. Today we did introductions, made planispheres and practiced using the planispheres with Flash Planetarium. Then we went outside and did some Kinesthetic Astronomy-type activities. I think it went well, and hope the next three days will also go well. I'll let you know tomorrow & Wednesday. Thursday, as soon as camp is over, I will be heading to Uprising, where I will also be teaching an astronomy class. I'll let you know how that goes next Monday.
Friday, June 4, 2010
After our board meeting this afternoon, I went out to the Logan Airport for the Celebration of Flight. Got to see a B-17 Flying Fortress: probably one of the coolest planes ever. I also talked to a number of people, pilots, a guy from Exxon, a Civil Air Patrol major, & a lady from Channel 8 KUTA. I left business cards with most of these people, and the lady from Channel 8 would like to have me come in to the studio to talk about the upcoming events we are going to be involved with.
We are going to be very busy in the coming weeks. On 12 June, we will be at the Family & Children's Expo, part of USU's Unlocking Your Child’s Potential Conference. That same evening, I will be out in Trenton, UT at a Giant Star Party for all of the Northern Utah Star Trek Clubs. Then starting on Monday, 14 June, Neil Dabb & I will be teaching at a summer camp for Logan City's Gifted & Talented elementary students. The camp will run for four days. Neil will teach in the mornings about weather, & I will teach in the afternoons about Astronomy. As soon as I am done on Thursday, I will be taking off for Firth, ID, where I will be teaching a Beginning Astronomy class for the Society of Creative Anachronism. And before all of that starts, next Friday, the 11th, is the monthly Cache Valley Stargazers meeting.
I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment. This seems like a lot to do, in a very short time, & I only have a week to prepare.