Cosmic Castaways – You’re Invited!

Cosmic Castaways – You’re Invited!

My job let’s me do some of the most awesome things. One of those things is narrating planetarium shows. My 2nd planetarium show is premiering Oct. 4 at the Ward Beecher Planetarium in Youngstown, OH on the YSU campus. We’re taking advantage of this event to also host a fundraising dinner with proceeds going to the creation of more shows just like this one. Get your tickets now! Every other night this show is shown, admission will be completely free! This show was produced using funds from the National Science Foundation, and Ward Beecher keeps it’s doors open thanks to an endowment and thanks to donations and grants like the one that produced this show. I love this idea: Raise money to pay the costs associated with producing content, and then...

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Breaking Stereotypes with We are CosmoQuest

Breaking Stereotypes with We are CosmoQuest

The question I get asked the most is “Why are you an astronomer?” The tone of this question varies from “I never thought I’d meet an astronomer? How did this happen?” to “Are you insane – that’s hard! Why would you do that!” to “Do astronomers have a reason to exist?” to, well…. reactions vary and it is clear I’m not the vision of what people expect an astronomer to look or sound like. I’m not the only one who experiences this. I sometimes think the only people who look like “astronomers” are white, 50-something men who make poor wardrobe choices. The problem with this stereotype is that’s just not astronomy. We are young. We are old. We are men and we are women....

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Universal Education

Universal Education

Here in the USA (or I should say there, since I’m currently in France), education tends to be somewhat nationalistic. It has to be. Teachers are tied to state and federal learning standards and if students don’t learn what is specifically listed in those standards, and specifically tested along those standards, schools are considered to have failed. While the national standards were written with the best of intentions to create a more literate population, they have had a stifling effect on creative teachers and creative learning environments. People like me do what we can to get the “fun stuff” (I’m biased toward thinking Astronomy goes in that fun category) into kids outside of school and I think we’re creating some pretty good things. What is amazing to me...

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There be Dragons (& Voorwerps)

There be Dragons (& Voorwerps)

It’s 2 weeks to Dragon*Con and I’m going a bit insane. As I mentioned in my last post, a group of us are getting ready to launch a comic book at Dragon*Con. As I’ve twittered, there is a fundraiser for cancer research the night before Dragon*Con. What I haven’t mentioned is after a summer hiatus, Astronomy Cast is coming back full force and my non-profit, Astrosphere New Media Association, is launching a store selling all sorts of science goodies. Trying to pull all this stuff together has been, um, challenging. But we’re getting there. And I’m hoping you’ll be there as we bring everything to fruition. Consider this your formal invite to all of the following: Watch the Stars – Light the Night [buy tickets here]...

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IYA taking shape

IYA taking shape

About a year ago I got a random email from Doug Isbell asking me if I’d be interested in being part of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA). I’d previously heard about this project, but having gotten a good last out of the non-event that was the World Year of Physics, I have to admit I hadn’t given it  much thought. But… When you’re asked to think about helping build something you give it more then a passing brain firing. As you know, if you’ve been reading this for a while, I let Doug suck me into the IYA program and now I’m a chair of the New Media working group. A year later, I’m proud to be part of this organization, and I think IYA will be something that is more then free lapel pins at conferences. I...

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Looking for Questioning (HS) Teachers

Some of the coolest moments in teaching only occur when your students realize they can safely ask anything. On random days, at random times, (during some unpredictable moment) one student will suddenly raise their hand and ask a question along the lines of “What you just said reminds me of something on TV.” They will then explain what they saw and may not have understood, and will end with, “Can you explain?” or “Can you tell us more?” or something similar as they try and build connections. These random student questions can lead the class on wild rides (and I love rollercoasters). They give me a chance to answer a lot of questions involving space, astronomy, and spacecraft in my physics classes as we stray off topic into the...

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