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Paper: Astronomy in the Classroom for Mature Lifelong Learners
Volume: 431, Science Education and Outreach: Forging a Path to the Future
Page: 143
Authors: Cobb, B. E.
Abstract: Mature adults are sometimes underserved by the professional astronomical community, which often focuses on K-12/undergraduate education and outreach. Mature adults hold as much interest and enthusiasm for astronomy as their younger cohorts, but often face a greater challenge in obtaining access to adult-level information that is more structured than sporadic public lectures or the occasional popular-science article. I present here my efforts to bring astronomy classes to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Berkeley. There are over 120 OLLIs on university and college campuses throughout the United States. These institutes provide adults, age 50 and above, with both a diverse curriculum of study and a stimulating community of peers. Teaching at OLLI has been a straightforward way so share astronomy with this segment of the public—outreach that could be replicated by astronomers at other universities and colleges with associated OLLIs. The OLLI classroom can be challenging because of the wide range of student educational backgrounds. However, teaching at OLLI is extremely rewarding because mature adults bring to the classroom a vast array of life experiences, great curiosity, and immense independence of thought. The OLLI also provides the unique opportunity to inspire other non-traditional astronomy outreach activities by building partnerships both with professors in other disciplines and with the students themselves, as adult students often have the resources and connections to call upon to further explore and share astronomy outside the classroom.
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