Little Stars Astronomy
Our new program, Little Stars Astronomy, is geared toward preschoolers and their parents. It’s based on a nationwide initiative called My Sky Tonight – a project to engage young children in the practices of science through Astronomy. Studies show that engaging in science practices at a young age helps children learn more about their world and become scientifically literate citizens.
One of the goals of Little Stars Astronomy is for children to ask questions about their world. It is known (Frazier, Gleman, and Wellman 2009) that children need to ask questions and have them answered correctly. Many questions children ask prompt discussion, and as parents help their children understand, the answer can lead to more discussion.
Little Stars also engages young children in observation. Observation helps children develop new knowledge, while reinforcing facts they already know. When asking a young child to observe the moon, for example, it is important for adults to have children notice the moon’s shape changes over time. This helps the preschooler to notice the moon has different shapes, in addition to noticing its existence.
Analyzing data is also an important part of our program. For the preschool children, that means making sense of what they see. Making a claim also occurs when children using their observation to answer a question, such as how different objects make different shape shadows.
Perhaps most fun of all, Little Stars Astronomy uses tools to gather information. Perhaps they will use binoculars and magnifying glasses to observe how objects change near and far away. Children might draw pictures showing how light on an object forms a shadow. Children might also use models of the surface of the moon using a bin full of sand and several sizes and weight of balls to investigate craters. They may draw the day and night sky and explain what it is to their parents.
Scientific study has never been so fun! Join us with your preschooler at Little Stars Astronomy on the last Saturday of the month, anytime between 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM.
– Mary Lou Alfieri, Teacher Naturalist.