Education

A Strong Start to 2019!

On January 15, 2019, Grand Mesa Observatory started the New Year off right with volunteer Nancy giving a presentation entitled "The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars" to a group of first graders at Glenwood Springs Elementary School. The enthusiastic group was excited to learn fun facts about our only moon, the sun that gives life to our planet, and the vast number of stars that populate the universe. A lot of photos in the presentation helped illustrate some of the science in a fun way! The students eagerly answered quiz questions. Teachers and students were encouraged to schedule a visit to Grand Mesa Observatory to see some celestial objects for themselves through our telescopes. 

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Its a big universe but a small world

Volunteer Nancy gave the presentation "Our Home the Milky Way and Beyond" as part of the Clifton Library's Educational Series. The library has a small presentation room, but it was a full house. The participants had fun answering the quiz questions and marveling about the universe. The audience included several young people, one of whom commented that he could not wait to see the future and all of the discoveries that would be coming. 

It turns out that another audience member is actually a neighbor from Lands End Road! He met with Nancy after the presentation about wanting to volunteer at the observatory. All community members attending the presentation were encouraged to attend public sky viewing events and to tour the observatory.

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Pomona Elementary Enrichment Cluster Event

On April 27, 2018 Pomona Elementary School held an Enrichment Clusters Day. Students were given a signup sheet listing the various presentation/workshop options and could choose to sign up for topics of interest to them. For the first time this year, astronomy was added to the roster and Grand Mesa Observatory was invited to participate. Director Terry and volunteer staff member Nancy split the day's presentations. In the morning, Terry gave the presentation "Our Home the Milky Way and Beyond" to an interested group of students. Nancy gave the presentation to two different student groups in the afternoon. The presentation was educational and interactive with " fun facts" and quiz questions included. The students were quite willing to test their knowledge and also to ask great questions and make comments.

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Great School Experience

On April 11, Grand Mesa Observatory founder and President of the Board John Mansur had the opportunity to talk about astronomy and the observatory to a group of 25 young men, ages from 13-17 at a school in Melbourne, Florida for at risk youth.  Most of what these young people knew about astronomy is what can be found in science fiction movies and what their teacher had been telling them in the days prior to the session.  Also remember, in that part of Florida, the Space Coast – Cape Canaveral area – the air is so humid that the seeing conditions are very poor.  Combine that problem with the light pollution, and the only stars visible there are the primary bright stars.  In fact, in nearly 30 years of star watching there, John himself has seen the Milky Way only one time and then it was very faint.  As a result, the young men really had no concept of what is out there.

John gave a Power Point presentation entitled “Our Home The Milky Way and Beyond” that GMO volunteer Nancy McGuire had prepared, with just a few modifications.  It was primarily aimed to give a good overview of astronomy, including what different kinds of astronomers there are, what do they do, and what tools they use to study the universe.  It was designed to really spark an interest in astronomy and it was very successful in doing that.  The young men had many questions and showed much interest – as did the supervisory staff that sat in on the presentation.  John stated: “They were very impressed and amazed at the number of stars, galaxies, and other wonders there are in our heavens.  But then so am I.”

They loved the images of nebulae and galaxies. They were fascinated by the video that GMO Assistant Director Isaac Garfinkle had put together showing the roof opening at the observatory in Colorado and then the scopes doing a ballet set to classical music as they un-parked, pointed, then parked again and then the roof closing.

John encouraged the young people to strive for an education, so they could really participate in the field of astronomy or other sciences.  He sensed that most of them had never considered such a possibility before.

John commented; “All in all, it was a wonderful experience for me, and I think also for them.  Nancy, thanks for your help!”