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Paper: Encouraging Durable Astronomy Clubs in Secondary Schools
Volume: 533, ASP 2021: Sharing Best Practices – AstronomyTeaching and Public Engagement
Page: 172
Authors: Macnaughton, R.
Abstract: An extracurricular club at a secondary school can have an immense effect on its members. One person on Cloudy Nights described the many successful space flight / astronomy careers of members of the club he was part of in the 1970's. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) has 30 centres (local clubs). There are many possible synergies between our centres and school clubs. We can provide expertise and possibly a star party at the school. Kids can bring energy and help at local outreach activities, perhaps giving presentations and/or ending up as long term members. We are looking to next September (COVID willing) to get clubs started. Our initial marketing target will be teachers who might consider advising an astronomy club as one of their extra curricular activities. Unfortunately many educators think they do not know enough astronomy. We plan a webpage which can be read in one session with brief summaries and links of a few possible club activities. The idea is to make a teacher aware of the possible fun directions a club could follow. On top of that, we are assembling many more ideas for club executives and teacher advisors of projects and ways to promote the club. Many good ideas make it more likely a club keeps going, especially when the original charismatic teacher advisor moves to a different school. We heard it would be useful for clubs to have a starter package. This could include Star Finders, magazines, some printed resources for activities (such as 14 cards of different extremophiles) and if affordable, a small meteorite which could promote a club in a display case at the school. Another effective way to attract members is through social media by club members giving up-to-date astronomy news. The RASC owns a remote telescope in California and there are research projects a club could do with it such as observing star brightness changes during exoplanet transits. We look forward to getting more clubs running in Canadian schools.
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