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My Sky Tonight: Early Childhood Pathways to Astronomy
Online Workshop for Informal Educators
March 2 - April 10, 2015
We are no longer accepting applications for this workshop.
Please join us for an online workshop for museum educators, focused on how 3- to 5-year-old children best learn and explore astronomy, and receive a set of engaging astronomy activities for this age group, to be used in programs at children's museums and science centers. The workshop will take place online from March 2 - April 10, 2015. Each participant will receive a free toolkit with the prototypes of all of the hands-on activities that we've been developing over the past two years. The goal of this workshop is to provide educators with the opportunity to learn methods of engaging young children and their families in activities related to astronomy, including some of the stepping stones to astronomy, such as exploring near versus far, and observing changing shadows.
What can you expect from your experience?
Participants will gain the following through participation in the professional development:
- Detailed descriptions of astronomy activities for preschool-aged children. These activities have been tested across multiple field sites.
- Most materials needed for implementing the activities at your own venue, although some may come as downloads to be printed, or need to be supplemented by additional materials that you are likely to have on hand, or which are easy and inexpensive to acquire.
- Content knowledge on astronomy to enrich your implementation of astronomy at your venue.
- Strategies we have found to be successful in engaging preschool-age children and their families.
- Membership in the Astronomy from the Ground Up online community, a support network of peers from all over the country that have participated in similar astronomy workshops for informal educators.
What is expected from you?
This is our second implementation of this workshop, and the second version of the activity toolkit, but we still consider both in the development stage. Therefore, we will be critically examining our work to improve future workshops and the final versions of the activities, which will both launch in Fall 2015. For these reasons, we ask for your commitment to participate in the following aspects of the workshop and its evaluation:
- Engage in the workshop across the full range of dates: March 2 - April 10, 2015. It will require about three to four hours per week, most of which has flexible timing. Most of the tasks, such as readings, forum discussions, and hands-on activities, can be completed on your own schedule week to week. We will also have one scheduled live one-hour web chat each week (time TBA) that we expect all participants to try to attend; if you miss one, they will be recorded to be watched at a later time.
- Implement at least three of the My Sky Tonight activities at your venue by June 30 and provide feedback on those activities through an online form.
- Participate in brief phone interviews.
Apply to Participate
We are no longer accepting applications to this workshop.
Applications were due by February 10.
To be eligible to participate in the workshop, you must work or volunteer at a museum or other informal learning setting. We welcome and encourage multiple applicants from each institution, but will send only a single toolkit of materials to each institution.
My Sky Tonight: Early Childhood Pathways to Astronomy is a project of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), in partnership with a team of early childhood researchers and museum educators, funded by a National Science Foundation grant. Here is a little more about the project and our organization: goo.gl/iwtKai
What workshop participants have to say about the experience
These quotes are from participants of past Sky Rangers Online Workshops:
I LOVE all the materials AFGU has given me. It helps make the programs so much more interesting and more memorable for the kids.
- Chris Malm, Naturalist, Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, Chantilly, VA
The activities I've received through this program will greatly enhance not only the hands-on activities we're equipped to facilitate, but I myself feel much more confident in actually working with participants under the stars. The Constellation Tour was a great experience that really got me out of my comfort zone - thanks for that!
-Stacy DeVeau, Director, Arizona NASA Educator Resource Center at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, AZ
This workshop has been amazing! I am so excited about all the fabulous resources and ideas that have been shared here and I am looking forward to incorporating these activities into our park programs.
- Jenny Dawn Stucki, Park Naturalist, Snow Canyon State Park, Ivins, UT
This workshop has been outstanding and a lot of fun to participate in! It has given me a lot of ideas on incorporating more astronomy into both the organizations that I work for. … Thanks again to you at AFGU for making everything really understandable and exciting. It really helps me inspire the public.
- Anne Drake, Naturalist, Grass River Natural Area, Bellaire, MI
What I have discovered about this class is even though I enjoy looking at the stars, having assignments makes me get out there and do it. Outside of a structured setting, it's easy to say I'm tired, it's late, it's cold, I don't feel like it tonight, but when there is external motivation like an assignment, then the drive suddenly appears. As it turns out, I am truly thankful for the assignments. I have learned so much and have gained confidence in finding constellations. It's like riding a bike. The learning and practicing of how to do it means I will be able to do it later when the needs arise.
- Steve Petznick, Naturalist, Mosquito Hill Nature Center, New London, WI
Bravo again for all of your and the teams assistance in helping us become better astronomers.
- Stephen Brueggerhoff, Environmental Educator/ Public Programs Manager, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin, TX