2013 – Science Share Night, Deer Creek Elementary

Looking at Jupiter after the clouds broke up.

Looking at Jupiter after the clouds broke up.

Last night, I attended the Science Share Night at Deer Creek Elementary along with two other Austin Astronomical Society members, Larry Martin and John Huntsberger. We volunteered to help out with this event by putting together a lunar phase presentation and providing telescopes and binoculars for viewing. As a child, we had science fairs where the students worked on various projects, proudly presenting them at the events. The Science Share Night, organized by the school’s PTA, took on a whole new level of sharing science. The Austin Mobile Planetarium was there and everywhere you looked, fun hands-on science activities were taking place. I would have loved to have taken part of them last night myself – just think of the great time the kids were having!

Learning how to use binoculars.

Learning how to use binoculars.

After the three of us set up, Larry remained inside for his presentation where the attendees learned the phases of the Moon using a flashlight and Styrofoam Moon and Earth. Larry put together a slideshow to play in the background of our images and sketches. We had a laminated lunar atlas set up with a few sketches next to it so that everyone could see lunar terrain and compare the sketches, which show the eyepiece view, to the atlas. Outside, John and I showed attendees how telescopes and binoculars worked while waiting for the skies to darken and the clouds to part. One child learned how to use the binoculars by locating her brother across the playground. The refractor was set up to show the attendees a chimney top and were explained why the view was upside down. I used this time to show children how to use a planisphere and John was across the sidewalk doing the same with the SkySafari app on his iPad.

The Moon wasn’t due to rise until after 6:37 pm, but we were able to eventually share views of Jupiter. The attendees witnessed John and I both laying down on our backs and doing contortionists antics during an inpromtu “finding Jupiter through our finder scopes/Telrads” moment. I should explain that Jupiter was at zenith! Although our Moon didn’t make an appearance, Jupiter’s moons put on a nice show.

Kudos to Deer Creek Elementary for providing such an amazing fun learning experience for the students and their families. And thank you for allowing us to be a part of it.

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~ by Erika Rix on February 27, 2013.

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