Traveling Telescopes in Education - Australia
We are Lorraine and Ralph Smith of Gin Gin, Queensland, Australia. We are the first group to travel full-time to schools in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia with astronomy observing programs and day solar and night presentations. We have visited hundreds of schools since late 2004. Using state-of-the-art telescopes, our students can enjoy real time viewing of the Sun in the day and other wonderful night sky objects through powerful telescopes. We are adding to our format this year so that all Australian (& International) schools can be a part of our Robotic Telescopes in Education real time viewing via the internet -together with teacher resources, including NASA solar information to support and complement our program.
During our years as operators of an onsite astronomy facility in Rockhampton Qld, we received many requests from nearby schools to come to their school grounds and set up the telescopes. That was how it began. It is amazing to be doing something you love and enjoy anyway and sharing that passion with others. Our day solar program was introduced mid-2005 and has been growing steadily since.
It is an incredible opportunity for all students to actually view our Sun safely in real time viewing through state of the art telescopes. It is fast becoming "our main program" as educators realize the value of the program to the education curriculum. We converse with teachers prior to our program to focus the classroom teaching before we get there. Next we give a students a colorful Powerpoint introduction of our Sun with clear explanations to give the students an introduction to what they might expect to see through the telescope for the first time and when they do, they become excited and enthused for more. The response from the majority of students and teachers is positive and encouraging.
Our "solar" program is gaining more and more interest after every show. The students eagerly view through the telescopes then turn around and line up again! "Wow" and "Awesome" are the most used words from students during a first time look at the Sun. The feedback from teachers and students has been mainly one of absolute astonishment! Many of the schools we visited want return visit in 2007. We plan to broadcast the Sun live from a host school in the near future, networking many other schools to interact with the program.
The Sun fits all criteria as per educational curriculum and even on a "quiet" day there is plenty to watch out for. A regular comment from educators is "We didn't know much about the Sun until your visit. It really is interesting and informative". And as another teacher put it: "This is real education." Our thanks to SOHO, NASA and others for providing new and enriching educational resources.
Please visit our website www.ttie.com.au and contact us if you would like to know more.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ACTIVITIES: If you use our SOHO images or movies, provide outreach and programs in the area of solar study, and would like to be considered for our Outreach Spotlight section, write to steele.hill[at]gsfc.nasa.gov with a brief overview of your efforts. If we think you'd make a good candidate, we will contact you.