Astronomy is an ideal vehicle to interest kids in science and to teach the basics of chemistry, physics, math, and even biology to elementary and middle-school kids. For high school it’s the perfect science since it uses biology, chemistry, physics, geology, and environmental science to study the universe and our place in it. Astronomy is also ideally suited to teaching the scientific process — how observations and evidence lead to sensible explanations about how the world works.
Make a Box Mount & Solar Shield
The Galileoscope has a standard ¼-20 nut in the base, so you can attach it to any standard photo tripod. What if you don’t have such a tripod? A medium-to-large corrugated cardboard box and small ¼-20 bolt or machine screw will do! The essential function of the box mount is to hold your Galileoscope steady no matter where it’s aimed in the sky. The solar shield, used in conjunction with a safe solar filter over the front of your Galileoscope, has two purposes: to enable you to quickly and easily aim at the Sun, and to cast a shadow over the eyepiece (and your head) so that you can look through the telescope without having the bright Sun in your face.
Galileoscope Optics Activity Guide
The Galileoscope kit is designed to be a full-up light and color experimentation station. As the telescope is being built, students can conduct experiments, make predictions, and watch and learn how images are formed by lenses. For example, they can investigate what happens to the image if you cover up half the lens. Most kids are surprised that the picture doesn’t get cut in half or go away but just gets a little dimmer. They learn that each little part of the lens helps form the entire image. The following optics activity guide addresses how light is bent by lenses in refracting telescopes.
- Galileoscope Optics Activity Guide (946-kilobyte PDF)
Galileo’s Classroom Activities
Galileo’s Classroom: Activities & Materials for Teaching Astronomy is a coherent set of educational materials that provide both content knowledge for classroom teachers and classroom-ready materials suitable for use with the Galileoscope in a variety of formal and informal settings. The activities in Galileo’s Classroom have been selected from among thousands of available astronomy-related activities, based upon their utility in modeling Galileo’s findings and on our current understanding of exemplary classroom practices. Each activity has been rewritten into the natural language of classroom teachers and has been field tested in schools. Galileo’s Classroom is available in a new 2nd edition from the Center for Astronomy and Physics Education Research (CAPER); you can buy it at Amazon.com.
Teaching With Telescopes
Teaching With Telescopes, a new website from the science educators at the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory, is designed to help teachers bring small telescopes into the classroom. The program naturally focuses on the Galileoscope. On the Teaching With Telescopes website you’ll find information about the Galileoscope, extensive assembly directions, an observing guide, instructional videos, and classroom activities. Teachers can take an online course on using the Galileoscope and participate in the discussion forum.