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Paper: Sustainable Astronomy
Volume: 443, Earth and Space Science: Making Connections in Education and Public Outreach
Page: 219
Authors: Blaha, C.; Goetz, J.; Johnson, T.
Abstract: Through our International Year of Astronomy outreach effort, we established a sustainable astronomy program and curriculum in the Northfield, Minnesota community. Carleton College offers monthly open houses at Goodsell Observatory and donated its recently “retire” observing equipment to local schools. While public evenings continue to be popular, the donated equipment was underutilized due to a lack of trained student observing assistants. With sponsorship from NASA’s IYA Student Ambassador program, the sustainable astronomy project began in 2009 to generate greater interest in astronomy and train middle school and high school students as observing assistants. Carleton physics majors developed curricular materials and instituted regular outreach programs for grades 6–12. The Northfield High School Astronomy Club was created, and Carleton undergraduates taught high school students how to use telescopes and do CCD imaging. During the summer of 2009, Carleton students began the Young Astronomers Summer Experience (YASE) program for middle school students and offered a two-week, astronomy-rich observing and imaging experience at Goodsell Observatory. In concert with NASA’s Summer of Innovation initiative, the YASE program was offered again in 2010 and engaged a new group of local middle school students in hands-on scientific experiments and observing opportunities. Members of the high school astronomy club now volunteer as observing assistants in the community and graduates of the YASE programs are eager to continue observing as members of a public service astronomy club when they enter the Northfield High School. These projects are training future scientists and will sustain the public's interest in astronomy long after the end of IYA 2009.
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