Invite an Alien to Astronomy Night

By Governor, Donna; Richwine, Pebble | Science Scope, November 2007 | Go to article overview

Invite an Alien to Astronomy Night


Governor, Donna, Richwine, Pebble, Science Scope


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Dozens of inflatable aliens gathered recently at my middle school to sponsor our first school-wide Astronomy Night. With an estimated attendance of over 500, my eighth-grade students hosted over a dozen activity-rich sessions designed to entertain and educate students and their families about the wonders of the solar system and beyond. From the Galilean moons of Jupiter, to the farthest reaches of our galaxy, space science intrigued learners of all ages and was the perfect theme for our family night event.

A couple of years ago, as part of a unit on space science, I invited the local astronomy club to my school for an evening of stargazing. This was an incredible experience for my students, and the eight or nine telescopes that the club brought were sufficient to show students the wonders of the Orion Nebula and details of lunar craters, and other diverse celestial treasures. Our Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) remembered that I had arranged the activity, and two years later asked if I would sponsor a similar night for the entire school. I was hesitant at first; I couldn't imagine having enough telescopes to adequately accommodate the potential number of students and their families that might show up. The event was scheduled despite this, but was postponed twice and eventually cancelled due to inclement weather. Although I felt a mixture of relief and disappointment, I decided that if such an event was to work at the school level, it would have to immerse participants in the enterprise of astronomy in more ways than just telescope viewing. This event would need to have multiple inquiry-rich activities to complement the stargazing.

This year I submitted a proposal to my PTSA. I would be willing to host an Astronomy Night, but I wanted to make sure there were indoor activities in case of bad weather or large crowds. I asked for funding to rent the Starlab planetarium from the local nature center, and a small budget for hands-on activities. Initially, the idea was to have the portable planetarium, stargazing with the local astronomy club, and a make-and-take session. But like many good ideas, this one began to snowball.

The event eventually resulted in a PTSA dinner, 14 concurrent sessions, and a coordinated band concert. Our shopping list included 1,200 Oreos, over 1,000 candy stars, 150 diffraction peepholes, hundreds of glow-in-the-dark stars, popcorn, over 360 feet of PVC pipe, a dozen shower curtains, 300 marshmallows, 500 ziplock sandwich bags, several movie posters, blow-up planets, and two dozen inflatable, five-foot aliens. Our PTSA sold over 400 meals and we estimated attendance at over 500. With the level of support of my students, colleagues, and PTSA, our first school-wide Astronomy Night was an enjoyable experience.

Immediately after getting administrative approval and PTSA funding for the event, I enlisted the help of my eighth-grade students. They had recently finished an astronomy unit and eagerly agreed to share what they learned in class by hosting sessions for the event. Students signed up to work in teams of two to four to prepare for, organize, and present sessions. I provided an idea or resource to use as a foundation activity and encouraged them to jazz it up and give it some zing. A majority of the groups decided to begin their sessions with a short PowerPoint introduction, followed by a modeling activity, and finished with an inquiry-rich activity. Student sessions included phases of the Moon, planetary real estate, spectroscopy, the life line of stars, and a session on discovering extrasolar planets. Two of our technology labs were used by students to demonstrate free downloadable software and online astronomy websites. A third lab was used to demonstrate how a star clock works and also for a celestial timekeeping game. An LCD projector was used to show a segment from the Smithsonian's film Cosmic Voyage. All of these sessions were prepared and presented by students. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Invite an Alien to Astronomy Night
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.