This past Friday night we welcomed a new cohort of teachers-
Neil Farley, Bronx Science
Chris Lynch, Lea Buena, Sabita Ramlochan, Lehman High School
Justine Davies, Bronxville School
Mike Barr, Collegiate Institute for Math & Science
This is our first new cohort in over a year and we are really excited to have them on board. Our first training session was a big success, despite cloudy weather. We began the evening with a delicious meal from Thai Market (Try the Kow Soy! So delicious!). Then we moved on to the nights activities.
The activities were arranged in stations- with four stations for each teacher to complete.
The first station was a simple telescope set-up and dismantling practice. In this station, teachers are helped through the steps required to set up the mount, attach the telescope tube, balance the telescope in RA and DEC, plug things in and turn it all on. Then they practiced moving the telescope around with the hand paddle. After a successful set-up, the teachers then dismantled the telescope as if for storage in their schools. This all seems very easy from the warm and well-lit hallway, but it’ll be a different story on the roof!
The next station used the optics bench to learn about the properties of different shapes of lenses. Here, the teachers used the standard optics kit that is used by the Columbia Lab classes. This includes convex and concave lenses, and a set-up where you can “build your own telescope”. Things like focal length are also discussed.
The next station describes different types of telescopes and mounts by showing examples of a schimdt-cassegrain, newtonian, and dobsonian telescopes. While some teachers may be familiar with some mounts/telescopes, this is a useful overview of what is out there. This activity would be great to do in conjunction with a discussion of eyepieces and magnification.
Finally, the last station was a session with Summer Ash, our resident outreach expert! She has acquired a huge volume of example activities and classroom exercise, and spent this time going through some good activities with the teachers. This work on curriculum can make a big difference in the success of astronomy clubs, especially in a place like NYC with frequent cloudy skies.
Stay tuned for the next session, where we will teach all about the celestial sphere, how to find observational targets, and other exciting astronomical tools!