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Outreach for Astronomers: Science Olympiad and Astronomy Live!

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This post is part of a series that showcases the different types of outreach activities you can do at any stage of your career as a graduate student, undergraduate, or astronomer! Each post features one national organization and one regional group. focus on

Science Olympiad logo. Science Olympiad image.

National: Science Olympiad (Briley Lewis)

What is the Science Olympiad?

science olympics I’m Junior high student(Division B) and high school (Division C) competition between science and engineering. Students participate in various events on various scientific topics. Prove your knowledge by taking tests, complete hands-on lab experiments, and demonstrate what you’ve built. There are different levels of competition that teams can participate in each year. They start as invitational (local, and just for practice!) or regional (first-level competition), with the top ranked teams progressing to states and then to national competitions.

If you’re interested in astronomy, there’s always an event held in each department. directly About space science: solar system Also I have high hopes Division B, and astronomy Topics change slightly each year to keep things fresh and interesting. There are plenty of events that make use of skills and content knowledge similar to astronomy and physics. Fermi’s question, dynamic planet, meteorology, crave the wavesWhen remote sensing.

What made you volunteer at the Science Olympiad?

When I was in junior high and high school, I got into astronomy at the Science Olympiad. It sparked my interest and helped me base my future career on it! I also had a lot of fun, made a lot of friends and enjoyed the thrill of competing with a team. It was certainly one of my most formative experiences in high school.

After graduating from high school, the more I learned about astronomy, the more So When I was studying for the Science Olympiad, it was helpful to have someone with special knowledge to ask questions! rice field.

High school students wearing matching shirts with medals and trophies taking a group photo.
Astrobites author Briley Lewis and her high school’s Science Olympiad team participated in 2013 after the competition. Image from Briley Lewis.

What do you do at the Science Olympiad?

There are many ways to support the Science Olympiad. I helped out as an astronomy “coach” for several years, attending conferences and giving mini-lessons with students, and was fairly hands-on. / Become an expert. So every year the coach gives my contact information to the students in case they need anything. Also, students practicing for the Science Olympiad test event are required to take mock exams that match the rules each year, so he writes and learns one or two astronomy tests.

You can also help your local team as a coach/advisor for specific events like this, or participate in competitions. We always need volunteers to run our events and experts to write our competition exams!

This sounds interesting! How can I participate?

If you have connections with your local or local team, please get in touch. They will surely want to use your expertise as a coach. Great resource for teachers/coachesPlus, you can see where tournaments are being held near you and see if you need volunteers. Visit the Science Olympiad page. Volunteer information and opportunities at the national level, and your State Science Olympiad websitethat too.

Logo: Astronomical Live!About planet cartoons
UCLA Astronomy Live! logo. Images from Astronomy Live.

Local: Tenmon Live! (Isabella Trierweiler)

What does Astronomy Live do?

Astronomy Live! An outreach organization run by UCLA graduate students. Our goal is to provide a hands-on astronomy experience for her K-12 students in Los Angeles. Programming Astronomy Live has two main elements. One was a demonstration-based outreach activity aimed at lower grade students during the school year and the other was a more focused summer observation aimed at her junior year of high school and her senior year. It’s a workshop. Both programs are completely free to schools and students and provide all the necessary supplies with the goal of making astronomy as accessible as possible.

Our science demo program is for elementary and middle school students in the LA area. Introduce students to physics and astronomy through demonstrations such as gravity table Also comet makingBring a demo to school or invite a class to the UCLA campus. In the summer, we hold two-month workshops aimed at providing research experience to students who may not be exposed to practical research in high school. Students come to her campus once a week to learn about observation and data reduction and to make their own observations in the lab. Lick Observatory Complete introductory research projects on everything from exoplanets to galactic morphology at Mount Hamilton!

Three people standing in a red-lit room with a telescope in the middle
Students practicing observations at UCLA’s rooftop telescope. Images from Astronomy Live.

How is astronomy alive! benefit students?

Beyond teaching through demos, the best feedback I’ve gotten about Astronomy Live is that it shows kids that being a scientist is a possible and achievable goal. The idea of ​​actually growing up and becoming a scientist can seem very abstract in a classroom setting, but doing a little experiment on your own or seeing a college campus can make the idea a lot more real. you can really feel it.

The most unique aspect of our summer program is the opportunity to observe at Lick Observatory. I think it’s very rare for a high school student to get his own data with such a large telescope. Developing a relationship with that telescope inspired the rest of the curriculum. Teach students about light and basic telescope design prior to observation. It introduces the different types of images that are needed when observing, teaches basic coding in Python, and outlines the process of converting raw data into full-color images.

A really cool experience for me recently was when one of my former Summer Workshop students came to UCLA as an astronomy undergraduate. It was great to hear that our program inspired someone to continue to explore their research. However, whether or not the student continues her STEM, the skills of analysis, problem-solving, and presenting one’s work are highly beneficial. All of our students come home with tangible (and cool!) experiences they can refer to as they look for future opportunities.

I want to start something like this at my facility! How do I get started?

Both programs are very feasible and relatively low cost. Graduate student volunteers are the main requirement.

Upfront costs for science demos vary. Our simplest pocket solar system requires only a piece of paper and a pen, but our most elaborate is an inflatable planetarium. NASA has some good guides on physics and astronomy demos with varying levels of equipment. Resources for EducatorsMany physics departments also maintain stores of demos for use in their courses, so that’s a good place to start! universe sandboxis a really fun way to simulate the universe.

Our summer program requires about $1000 a year, most of which goes to training graduate students to observe with Lick. If your university does not have access to telescopes, much of the data is publicly available from telescopes. Hubble or Sloan Digital Sky Survey.python or DS9 (Also JS9, online version). We borrow laptops from colleges and lend them to students who don’t have their own laptops, keeping all data and scripts online (rhinoceros server is a good option). This ensures that students do not need additional software to work on their projects.

These types of outreach programs are very flexible in terms of resources and scale, so all of these ideas can be perfectly tailored to your community’s needs.

Astrobite Edited by Graham Doskoch and Sahil Hegde

Main image credit: Astronomy Live! Science Olympiad

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