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A Wide Spectrum of Solar Science for After School Astronomy ClubAfter School Astronomy clubs are an important method of exposing students to astronomy at the critical middle school age when sparking an interest can inspire a lifelong career or hobby. We know that teachers complain that they can spend little time on astronomy in the classroom since they must teach to the test and the curriculum requirements do not have very extensive astronomy coverage. We also know that space is a very popular subject with students that can motivate them to join an after school club. One of the problems with after school astronomy clubs is that they don't often have a chance to observe the night sky. We propose to train club mentors on how to do daytime solar observing so students fulfill the IYA goal of looking through a telescope. We propose to provide a half day workshop for elementary and middle school teachers on starting and maintaining After School Astronomy clubs with special emphasis on observing the Sun not only in the visible spectrum but with radio waves and other parts of the spectrum as well. We will use NASA-oriented or NASA-funded educational materials and websites to bring a variety of ideas to the mentors and a broad knowledge of astronomy to the students. Attendees will be given an overview of the science of the Sun and how it can affect us on the Earth. They will be shown the dynamic nature of the Sun and what to look for to track the events happening there. The educators will be shown simple approaches to directly observing the Sun such as pinhole cameras, use of projection techniques with telescopes or binoculars, etc. They will be acquainted with sunspotter scopes and the advantages and disadvantages (such as expense) they pose for getting students involved. We will also point out the possibilities of using regular telescopes with solar filters and the specialized solar viewing telescopes such as the Coronado. Once the educators are comfortable with the simple approaches to viewing the Sun we will expose them to advanced topics such as remotely viewing the Sun using telescopes available on the web. Resources such as the Sun-Earth Viewer will allow them to study near real-time images of the Sun in multiple wavelengths. They will also be shown how they can monitor the Sun at radio wavelengths via remote telescopes or even how to purchase and build their own radio telescopes for hands-on monitoring of the Sun and other radio sources. We will conduct a brief evaluation of the participants knowledge of the Sun as they come into the workshop. We will also ask them to complete a brief knowledge survey at the end to determine if their knowledge and comfort level with solar science has improved significantly.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Goddard Space Flight Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Mayo, Lou
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Thieman, James R.
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
May 26, 2008
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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