Virtual Astronomy & Space Academy is a one-time introductory class giving an overview of our awesome universe and the technology used to understand its nature such as telescopes and space exploration. It is offered for ages 6-11. This class will help generate interest and foster scientific literacy in children through the delivery of an awe-inspiring, educational, and entertaining astronomy program. Truly breathtaking images, video clips and fun STEM hands-on activities make for an unforgettable cosmic journey. Children can be inspired to think big, dream big, and to foster curiosity about an enormous universe in which the boundaries appear unlimited. With the understanding of some simple terminology and concepts, the children are better informed about space and the celestial objects that reside overhead. The spark of interest often ignites in young minds where the ABC’s of the universe are brought to light.
Introduction: It’s a clear sky tonight. How do you feel when you look up at the heavens? Do you wish upon a star, dream bigger and think “outside the box,” or do you wonder what it would be like to know more about what’s up there? Albert Einstein said the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. It’s true, and I can help you reach far beyond what you can see in these easy lessons while dispelling myths and misconceptions.
Purpose: This class is based on the principles and concepts of the nature of the universe and will provide an overview and appreciation for the observable universe and space exploration. To accomplish this aim, concepts are developed with reference to everyday experiences.
Teaching Method: Screen sharing using an MS PowerPoint slides with incredible images and exciting video clips. Clarifying questions can be asked through live interaction, and time for addressing in depth questions submitted via the chat box will be given at the end of the slides.
Materials: The provided PDF packet must be printed BEFORE the class. It includes a Daily Observation Log with instructions for the student to record their own observations of the night sky in their back yard or a nearby park or schoolyard as a homework assignment. It also includes two STEM hands-on activities described by topic below. Students will need a pen or pencil to write and draw with.
• The sun is studied as a model star and compared with other stars
• The earth is studied as a model planet and compared with other planets, and our natural spaceship from which we explore
• The moon is studied as our nearest neighbor in space and first interest in space exploration
o Activity 1: Faces on the Moon
o Early and future missions
Role of the Orion capsule and Gateway station
• Interest in investigating the planet Mars
o Water and signs of life from the past
o Technology used to get there and investigate
• Star patterns in asterisms and constellations
o Activity 2: Constellations
o Star color and brightness
• Star clusters, nebulae and galaxies
o Black holes and galactic collisions
• Be a cosmic explorer
o Many unanswered questions about the universe
Course Objectives & Learner Outcomes
Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to:
A. Define basic terminology used in astronomy and the space sciences.
1. Subatomic particles
2. Planets & moons
3. Stars & constellations
4. Star clusters, nebulae & galaxies
5. Supermassive black holes
B. Understand and state important concepts and principles.
1. Space exploration
2. Colliding galaxies
C. Apply principles to scientific calculations.
1. Speed of light
D. Interpret charts and graphs in evaluating scientific data.
1. Faces of the Moon
E. Demonstrate skill in the use of instruments and scientific reasoning.
1. Particle accelerator