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The purpose of this article is to help you understand the joy of astronomy, and can be applied to you as a individual or as an educator trying to spread the love of astronomy. Our education index will attempt to help educators provide education of these topics in a meaningful fashion. If you are an educator, please skim this post for your own benefit and then pay special attention to the for educators section.
Look at the photo above? What do you see? What many people see is that this image looks like a the head of a horse. In fact, what you are looking at is called the horsehead nebula. We will talk about nebulae in a later post, but my point is that what you just did is the essence of astronomy. Astronomy is the viewing and interpreting of the space beyond our world, and it is truly a lovely field. The idea of astronomy can be taken to a science, but in order to love this field I do not want you to think of it as science just yet. Think of astronomy as a form of entertainment. I know a lot of students(myself included) love to play videogames for fun. In the end, what we get out of the videogame can be broadly categorized as such: we can relax, refocus our thoughts to something that we enjoy, and(most important to our discussion and equally unconciously) enhance our knowledge on the game. These categorizations can be directly applied to students, our yourself, to make astronomy as a subject fun. If you have the ability, go outside and look at the stars and let your mind roam. Do not worry about the purpose of doing so, just go out and observe. After a few days of doing so, three things may happen
- You may start having questions that you can’t answer like, why does the moon looking different every night, or, why do some of the lights I see in the sky flash and others move fast, or you may just find a group of lights in the sky that you want to learn more about
- You have no questions, but found it relaxing to be outside. You may or may not think the sky is pretty(I guess if you live in the city there is not much to see in the sky)
- You are angry at me for wasting your time outside and you were bit by too many mosquitoes
And to all three of those responses, I am happy because my goal was achieved. If you were in option 1, the rest of this blog will be great for you, so you can skip to here, move on to my next post. If you were in option 2, the rest of this blog will still be great for you, but keep reading this article. If you were in option 3, I still think I can make this blog great for you so please do keep reading. I want this blog to be educational for option 1 individuals, but I intend to show you how you can have fun for the option two and three folks.
If you were the second option on this list, I ask you to continue to go outside and just stare at the sky. It is not important right now to learn about astronomy, just enjoy the sights you see. If you do not have a good view, get some cheap VR glasses and get an app on your phone for viewing the sky(I have a free one called skyview lite). You may be questioning the purpose of this, but as I said, the purpose is not important. Right now, all I want you to answer me is if you enjoy seeing the stars and want to continue to do so. Then, start actively formulating questions about what you see. These can be brief, just make them actual questions you have. Now think about your two options, you could just google these answers and forget them a day later, or you could go ahead and read my blog, where I probably will answer your questions plus give you an understanding of what astronomy is, while teaching you to enjoy it. This way when you put your VR glasses back on you will know what you are looking at and can encourage your friends to join you(or if you want to show off about how much you know you can do that to.) If you are still not motivated keep reading, otherwise, please let this rest for a day or two then go ahead and read the next post in astronomy. Click here to skip to the end.
Now option 3 individuals, think about what broad fields you do enjoy. Say you like literature. Why do you read the books you do? Character development, the plot, the emotions? What if I promised you that I can produce all of that in my blog about astronomy? I assume you will keep reading this blog. If so, I promise you all of that so please do keep reading, you will truly be fascinated! At this point, think about your broad field like literature and what you find important out of it. As I mentioned with literature, I will do my best to provide you what you would like to see in this blog while teaching you about astronomy so please go ahead and click here and go read the next one after giving a couple of hours for this to sink in. If you cannot think of a broad field like literature that you can enjoy(it can be anything, art, music, math, geography), then there are two options for you
- You are a student
- You are not reading this
The only reason someone would be as disinterested as I described is that they are a student. For that, I apologize that you are not interested in education, but what I ask you is to read the below section for educators. Although you did not get an education that is encouraged you to be curious, give this blog a shot and see if you can ever find interest in the subject. If not, its no big deal! Try to learn the basics that I will cover in the next couple of posts just to understand what you see a little bit and do what you enjoy! Just while doing what you enjoy, consciously make the effort to try to relate what you enjoy to a broad field. Then start learning in that field as much as you can. You will gain interest in that field, and eventually, be able to return to this post as a option 1 or 2 student from the three options above.
Most of your students will land in this third option. Please accept that fact immediately and understand one thing, you goal should not be to teach them content but to drive interest into learning about it themselves. The problem with school is that teachers provide content, give homework, and then test, but students do not understand the why they should learn it. Instead, what I want you to do is to find out what your students interests are and relate astronomy to this interest. You will really help each student by making it individual or semi-individual. With each of these interests, you can then encourage the student to like astronomy. Say one student is interested in hiking, then you can encourage that student by telling them how astronomy is used to help you know your location while hiking, and learning astronomy will make hiking easier plus you can help pass your time by doing things like identifying the constellations in the sky. I assure you just this is enough to get the students interested, because then they see astronomy as benefiting them! From their, you can teach them. I would highly advise against lectures though. Have them do activities. Each of my blog posts will cover a topic to teach in your class and will come with activities to do! For an idea to structure you class, you can use my post on the subject you want to teach and cover what I write about in about 5 minutes to the students(just tell them about is briefly). Then use the rest of the class to do the activities I list in the bottom(I think they will be in the bottom) of the post to allow the students to learn hands-on.
Thank you so much for reading, and please let me know how I can improve! This is my first blog post so I am really raw to it all but I will continue to make this content as my schedule allows me. Any questions you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org