1. Anna Hurst
  2. Director of Museum, Park, & Library Programs
  3. My Sky Tonight: Early Childhood Pathways to Astronomy
  4. www.astrosociety.org/MySkyTonight
  5. Astronomical Society of the Pacific
  1. Maureen Callanan
  2. Professor
  3. My Sky Tonight: Early Childhood Pathways to Astronomy
  4. www.astrosociety.org/MySkyTonight
  5. University of California Santa Cruz
  1. Jennifer Jipson
  2. Professor
  3. My Sky Tonight: Early Childhood Pathways to Astronomy
  4. www.astrosociety.org/MySkyTonight
  5. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  1. Sasha Palmquist
  2. Senior Researcher
  3. My Sky Tonight: Early Childhood Pathways to Astronomy
  4. www.astrosociety.org/MySkyTonight
  5. Institute for Learning Innovation
  1. Julia Plummer
  2. Associate Professor of Education
  3. My Sky Tonight: Early Childhood Pathways to Astronomy
  4. www.astrosociety.org/MySkyTonight
  5. Pennsylvania State University
Presenters’
Choice
Public Discussion
  • May 13, 2018 | 05:11 p.m.

    What a wonderful video! As a Board member of the ASP, I am very proud that we have such a groundbreaking program in our portfolio. What are your plans to scale up and/or sustain this wonderful program?

    Please check out ASP Junior Board Fellow Katy Rodriguez in our Cal-Bridge video and share it with your network as well. The video link is: http://stemforall2018.videohall.com/presentatio....

  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 02:07 p.m.

    Thanks, Alexander! We're very proud of this work as well. We are nearing the end of our NSF funding for My Sky Tonight (MST), but the ASP and our university research partners are excited and motivated to continue working together in this field.

    We received supplemental funding from the NSF for our MST grant, which we have been using to explore the role of story books in supporting children's engagement in science activities. This interest grew out of the popularity of one of our MST activities, Bear's Shadow, which incorporates the storybook Moonbear's Shadow by Frank Asch. The supplemental funding enabled us to work with an author (Meg Gower) and illustrator (David Barker) to create a new children's book, Breakfast Moon, to complement one of our existing MST activities, Moon Phases Matching. Our research partners are currently conducting studies with groups of children engaging in those two activity / book combinations.

     

    Looking to the future, we are exploring options for publishing the Breakfast Moon book, and the team is seeking funding to further research how storybooks support children and families in engaging in science practices. We are also exploring options for continuing to offer our MST online training workshops for educators beyond those that were enabled with this NSF funding.

     

    You can access all of the MST activities and supporting resources, including the Bear's Shadow and Moon Phase Matching activities mentioned above, on the ASP's website at www.astrosociety.org/MySkyTonight

  • May 14, 2018 | 02:44 a.m.

    This is great work!  Can you give an example of what advice you give educators in working with young children about astronomy?

  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 02:37 p.m.

    Thanks, Barbara!

     

    Educators who received the My Sky Tonight activity toolkit participated in a six-week workshop that included training in Developmentally Appropriate Practice, based on the work of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and adapted specifically for astronomy, as well as techniques for engaging children in science practices. For science practices, we looked at engagement with a natural phenomenon, either directly or second-hand, through practices such as asking questions, observing, looking for patterns, constructing explanations, making claims, using tools, and modeling. 

     

    For example, in our Bear's Shadow activity, children model how the Sun casts shadows, observe the shadows cast by a flashlight and compare their observations as they change the position of the light, and make claims about how to make certain changes to the size and position of the shadow. They also trace their own shadows outside at different times of the day to directly engage with the phenomenon of changing size and position of shadows as the Sun appears to move across the sky over the course of a day.

     

    For more details about the framework we used and guidance we offered to educators, please see the written guides and short videos here:  https://www.astrosociety.org/education/early-learners-2/activities-and-resources/#resources

     

    You can also access written guides and videos for each activity we developed. Each activity guide includes sections on science practices, developmentally appropriate strategies, learning sciences research, and science background information, all specific to the topic and activity. Those activities can be accessed here:

    https://www.astrosociety.org/education/early-learners-2/activities-and-resources/#activities

     

     
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    Barbara Rogoff
  • Icon for: William Spitzer

    William Spitzer

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 09:29 a.m.

    This project sounds really interesting, in terms of how you are building on young children's natural curiosity about the world and connecting it to astronomy, which is often thought of as appropriate for older children.

    In the video, you mention looking at parent's journals of conversations with their kids. Have you found particular strategies, in working with informal educators and parents, that are particularly effective at fostering rich conversations?

  • Icon for: Maureen Callanan

    Maureen Callanan

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 10:14 p.m.

    Thanks for your comment!  Regarding the parents' journals -- in that study we were really just interested in being "flies on the wall" and finding out what kinds of things children spontaneously talk about with their parents.  It was really amazing to see how much interest children expressed in astronomy topics -- especially since, as you point out, researchers and educators might have expected astronomy to be too advanced for young children!  As for your question about strategies for fostering rich conversations, our toolkit activity guides built on cognitive development research as well as "developmentally appropriate practice" (https://www.naeyc.org/resources/topics/dap) for working with young children.

     
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    William Spitzer
    Claire Pillsbury
    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Lucía Alcalá

    Lucía Alcalá

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 14, 2018 | 11:47 p.m.

    Hi Maureen! This project sounds very interesting. I'm curious to know how can this activity be used with families that have little formal schooling that might not be familiar with the practice of writing journals, particularly in communities with strong oral traditions. I'm thinking maybe asking them to record their conversation, etc. Anyhow, great project and look forward to hearing more about your findings. 

  • Icon for: Maureen Callanan

    Maureen Callanan

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:32 a.m.

    hi Lucia!  In our diary study we actually included a group of immigrant families from Mexico, where the families had little formal schooling, as well as two groups of (mostly Euro-American) families with higher formal schooling.  We were very interested to find that there were few differences between the groups!  The families in our Mexican heritage sample had just as many conversations about astronomy as the other groups.  To address the possible problem that writing in journals might be less familiar for the basic schooling parents, we called all of the families every few days and offered the option of telling us about their conversations about nature over the phone.  Most families turned out to be comfortable with the journal option.

     
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    Claire Pillsbury
  • Icon for: Julia Plummer

    Julia Plummer

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:57 p.m.

    Thanks for your question, William. One aspect of the My Sky Tonight toolkit activities is that they are developed around rich, engaging science phenomena (e.g. the pattern of lunar phases, the landscape of Mars) - and are coupled with materials that allow children, educators, and/or parents to have rich conversations around those phenomena.  We have iteratively tested the ways in which these materials help facilitate those conversations and move children towards sense-making about the phenomena.  

  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 08:12 p.m.

    Here are links to videos of a few of the My Sky Tonight activities that I feel best provide opportunity for rich conversations:

    Note that you can access the activity guides, videos, and related resources for all of these and all of the other My Sky Tonight activities at www.astrosociety.org/MySkyTonight

  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 01:53 p.m.

    Thanks for stopping by to learn more about our My Sky Tonight project! We are looking forward to hearing from others who are working to engage young children in the practices of science. What approaches have been most effective in your work in this field? We'd also enjoy hearing from anyone using stories (through books or other storytelling techniques) to support young children's engagement in science, since this is the next direction we're exploring for our work.

     

    Please be sure to check out our My Sky Tonight astronomy activities for young children and supporting resources for educators. They are all freely and publicly available on the ASP's website at www.astrosociety.org/MySkyTonight

     

    To learn more about My Sky Tonight, our activities, and the framework we used in developing them, please consider joining us for this free one-hour webinar this Thursday, May 17:

     

    My Sky Tonight Webinar, May 17 at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern
    Join us for a live one-hour webinar to learn more about the My Sky Tonight program. We will give a brief overview of this research to practice program, discuss our framework for encouraging young children to engage in the practices of science, feature My Sky Tonight astronomy activities for pre-K children, and let participants know how they can access all of the My Sky Tonight activities and related resources. The webinar will take place on Thursday, May 17 at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern. Please fill out this short survey (<10min) to then be directed to the webinar registration form: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MSTMay2018

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    Jessica Brearton

    May 14, 2018 | 08:00 p.m.

     What a fantastic project! You could really see how engaged and excited the kids are as they take part in the activities - I love the idea of bringing astronomy to children of this age range. Great work!

     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 08:14 p.m.

    Thanks, Jessica! We're excited about this work too, and though we're nearing the end of our NSF funding, the team is eager to continue this work, exploring new approaches and expanding to new audiences.

  • Icon for: Claire Pillsbury

    Claire Pillsbury

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 09:11 p.m.

    Wonderful project and great to see the joy and excitement in these small scientists.  The involvement of developmental psychologists gives solid grounding to the educator training and made me thing of Alison Gopnik's book, The Scientist in the Crib about how young children's instinctive curiosity, motivation to explore further, interest in repetition and much more, naturally segueway to hands on science activities.   In reference to the storybook project, another project that might be worth looking into is the Vermont Center for the book and Montshire Museum's "Mother Goose Asks Why" NSF supported program that developed simple hands on science activities that could be done at home that related to storybooks that had some event or idea that touched on a science theme (shadows, buoyancy, growth, etc).  Way back in 1997 but it was an exemplary project that still seems relevant.

    Award Number: 9710996
  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 10:59 p.m.

    Thanks for taking the time to watch our video and comment, Claire! 

     

    We are great admirers of Alison Gopnik's work and appreciate all she's done to promote the idea that young children are natural scientists.

     

    We're familiar with the Mother Goose program! Yes, it's definitely still relevant! LEAP into Science from the Franklin Institute is also doing work in this field, pairing storybooks with science activities for children. Be sure to check out their video as well.

     

    In our work with storybooks, we want to explore how and why children’s books can facilitate young children’s engagement in science practices, including some very specific practices. We're also interested in creating new books that tell engaging stories that illustrate the scientific process. Through supplemental funding from the NSF, we've already developed one new book of this sort, called Breakfast Moon, working with an author (Meg Gower) and an illustrator (David Barker). It tells the story of a sister and brother who look for the Moon in the sky each morning, record their observations in a journal, and choose their breakfast food based on the shape of the Moon that day. When it's cloudy one day, they review their past observations and use the pattern that they notice to predict what the Moon would look like that day.

     
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    Claire Pillsbury
  • Icon for: Kris Morrissey

    Kris Morrissey

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 14, 2018 | 10:35 p.m.

    HI Anna, I am so intrigued and inspired by this project, I immediately went to your website both for inspiration for my work and for ideas for activities I might do at home with a curious visiting grandchild.  It looks like a lot of the activities are creative activities for the classroom.  Are there activities that are grounded in looking at a night sky and perhaps appropriate for home activities?  

    Thanks and good luck with this wonderful project.

  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 11:23 p.m.

    Thanks, Kris, for taking the time to watch our video and comment!

     

    Our activities were developed primarily for use in museums, so they do not include nighttime observing activities. We do have two activities about stars that aren't yet on our website, but will be soon. Meanwhile you can find the two songs that go along with them (one about the properties of stars, one about constellations). They are all available for download here.

     

    In the next phase of our work, we'd like to develop family astronomy backpacks that could be checked out of a library or museum. These backpacks might include a storybook, supporting activities, observing guidance, and a family observation journal. Please keep in touch so that we can share these resources when they're available!

     
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    Julianne Mueller-Northcott
  • Icon for: Maureen Callanan

    Maureen Callanan

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:36 a.m.

    I would add, Kris, that in our research we have tried out "moon journals" that we sent home -- we suggested that families draw the moon every day, noting what time they saw it, where it was in the sky, and how it looked.  We're hoping this activity will help families notice patterns, not only in the shape of the moon, but in when and where it appears each day.  Our early pilot testing suggests that this can be quite effective!  As Anna, said, we hope to develop more activities where families can observe and record phenomena over time and notice patterns in ways that are difficult to do in a daytime museum visit or science workshop.

     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Jeanne Century

    Jeanne Century

    Researcher
    May 15, 2018 | 08:22 a.m.

    I enjoyed this video!  Always great to see people supporting and acknowledging what our youngest learners can do!  I'm looking forward to hearing about your findings from your storybook study!

     

    Jeanne

  • Icon for: Julia Plummer

    Julia Plummer

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 02:05 p.m.

    Thanks Jeanne!  We are excited to share our video and talk to other folks who recognize young learner's capabilities.  We're also excited by this new are we are finding with our storybook research.  My graduate student and I just collected more data this morning with 3-and-4 year olds to add to our existing data set.  My team is interested in the role the storybook can play in promoting scientific inquiry and engagement in science practices.

     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Graduate Student
    May 15, 2018 | 09:07 a.m.

    So fun! The inclusion of stories and narrative makes me think of Nichole Pinkard and the Digital Youth Divas. They primarily work with much older students, but I think many people are thinking about the important role narrative can play in helping learners make personal connections with STEM. Thanks for sharing!

  • Icon for: Maureen Callanan

    Maureen Callanan

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 02:33 p.m.

    Thanks for making this link, Naomi!  We agree that there is a lot of exciting work on narrative and STEM, and Nichole Pinkard's work is a powerful example of how narrative provides connection for learners at different ages. We're thinking stories may be particularly helpful for preschoolers, but also for their parents! 

  • Icon for: Julia Plummer

    Julia Plummer

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 02:36 p.m.

    Thanks for the suggestion, Naomi.  I just looked up Nichole Pinkard's work - their video was very helpful in understanding their work: http://digitalyouthnetwork.org/project/digital-...

     

  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 09:31 p.m.

    Thanks, Naomi! I am excited to learn more about your work with BioSim also. Thank you for the book chapter you sent. I hope we get the chance to chat some time soon about possible connections between our projects.

     
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    Naomi Thompson
  • Icon for: Julianne Mueller-Northcott

    Julianne Mueller-Northcott

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 10:39 a.m.

    Wow! I loved hearing about this project and and want to figure out how to have my own preschooler participate! I am a high school science teacher and not very familiar with programs targeted for such a special age group. What are some of the biggest challenges and rewards in working with preschoolers?? I am sure you have great stories! 

  • Icon for: Julia Plummer

    Julia Plummer

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 02:42 p.m.

    From my perspective, one of the biggest challenges we have had has been less about working with the preschoolers and more about bringing together all of our goals for this project successfully (e.g. engaging activities, developmentally appropriate, support use of science practices, etc.).  But over time we have learned from each other and now have developed some really exciting ways of working with children, families, and educators.  

    What I have found to be the biggest reward is when I see preschool-age children actively using evidence when making a claim or constructing a model.  For example, one of our activities is called "Exploring New Worlds." In this activity, children learn about the surface of Mars through discussion around a series of photos of Mars and its surface features.  They then work together to construct a Mars surface out of materials (e.g. sand, rocks).  What I found to be most exciting is when children actively reference features of the images of Mars as they construct their landscapes, such as when they make a volcano, then look at the image and decide the caldera on the top needs to be "a little bigger" - they are actively using evidence to improve their representation.  Who would think that a 4 year old could make a scientific model of the planet Mars?  But they can!

  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 09:40 p.m.

    Thanks for taking the time to watch our video and comment, Julianne. You can access all of our activities and supporting materials at www.astrosociety.org/MySkyTonight. The materials include short videos of children engaged with each of the activities.

    For me, the biggest challenge was letting go of my desire to have "learning goals" for an activity and instead focus on creating opportunities for engagement and conversation without any specific outcomes in mind. The conversations and insights from the children that emerged from these experiences were very rewarding!

     

  • Icon for: Jennifer Atkinson

    Jennifer Atkinson

    Project Manager, STEM Guides
    May 15, 2018 | 05:35 p.m.

    This is a great project - as inspiring to me as a parent as well as an educator. I'm wondering whether you shared your journal results or analyses with parents, or if their perceptions of their nature/astronomy conversations changed in anyway as a result of recording and reporting on it? 

  • Icon for: Jennifer Jipson

    Jennifer Jipson

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 10:19 p.m.

    Thank you, Jennifer! We have not yet shared our journal findings with families (we are in the process of analyzing the ways that families talk about events and phenomena in a variety of domains). Like you, though, we are interested in how engagement in this project relates to families' ongoing interactions and children's developing interests. We approached this by asking a small subset of families to complete journals before and after they visited a children's museum in which My Sky Tonight activities were offered in a "stumble upon" manner on the floor of the museum.  The post-My Sky Tonight journals reflected an increase in the proportion of conversations about astronomy that families reported as compared to the pre-activity journals!

     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Catherine McCarthy

    Catherine McCarthy

    Informal Educator
    May 15, 2018 | 10:06 p.m.

    Nice video explaining My Sky Tonight!

     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 02:52 p.m.

    To learn more about My Sky Tonight, our activities, and the framework we used in developing them, please consider joining us for a free one-hour webinar this Thursday, May 17:

    My Sky Tonight Webinar, May 17 at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern
    Join us for a live one-hour webinar to learn more about the My Sky Tonight program. We will give a brief overview of this research to practice program, discuss our framework for encouraging young children to engage in the practices of science, feature My Sky Tonight astronomy activities for pre-K children, and let participants know how they can access all of the My Sky Tonight activities and related resources. The webinar will take place on Thursday, May 17 at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern. Please fill out this short survey (<10min) to then be directed to the webinar registration form: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MSTMay2018

  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 07:05 p.m.

    Thanks everyone for viewing and commenting on our video! We're excited to be sharing My Sky Tonight with this broader audience!


    Yesterday, we hosted a one-hour webinar about My Sky Tonight in which we discussed our framework for encouraging young children to engage in the practices of science, and highlighted three of our pre-K astronomy activities as examples with practical tips for educators.


    If you missed the webinar, or would like to review it again or share it with colleague, you can find the recording here: https://vimeo.com/270538481


    Whether you participated live or watched the recording, please take a few moments to fill out our brief follow-up survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MySkyPost2018

  • Icon for: Ann Caspari

    Ann Caspari

    Informal Educator
    May 16, 2018 | 05:42 p.m.

    I was lucky to have been one of the museums to use the materials and I can attest to the quality of the materials and instruction, especially for use in a preschool classroom. The activities were developmentally appropriate and fun. I am looking forward to seeing the research on story books since that is one of the main ways that we like to teach young children about science at the National Air and Space Museum.

     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Lead Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 04:21 p.m.

    Ann, thank you for taking the time to watch and comment on our video. I am delighted to hear that the My Sky Tonight activities have been good tools for you as you work with your young visitors! You can now find all of the materials freely available on the ASP website, so they are eacy for you to share with colleagues! www.astrosociety.org/MySkyTonight

     

    We're excited about our new work exploring storybooks. Stay tuned for more information onthat as it develops.

     

     

  • Icon for: Margaret Glass

    Margaret Glass

    Informal Educator
    May 17, 2018 | 04:51 p.m.

    Anna and Team,

    What a lovely video! I really appreciate the developmental psychology approach of your work, and recognition of the importance of creating positive experiences around science engagement for young children and their families. Does your research follow young children or their families for any length of time? 

     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Maureen Callanan

    Maureen Callanan

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 06:24 p.m.

    Thanks for your comment Margaret!  So far, the have followed families for a maximum of several weeks.  The "diary study" mentioned in the video was a two-week study.  We've done some family workshops that continue for 3 weeks (or maybe 4 in some of the summer science workshops that Julia Plummer has conducted).  It's so informative to be able to have at least one follow up visit with a family to find out what they've talked about since their first contact with the toolkit materials!  We are developing longer term take-home activities to support families in doing ongoing observation of things like the moon's phases. 

  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Lead Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 04:23 p.m.

    Thanks for your comment, Margaret! As Maureen said, we are looking forward to longer-term experiences with families in our future work. 

    We are still applying a lot of what we learned from the early AFGU online workshops that we developed with you a decade ago! The six-week My Sky Tonight workshops followed a similar model.

     

  • May 18, 2018 | 02:37 p.m.

    Thank you for the video.  It reminded me of how many hours I spent as a youngster staring up at the night sky – and how intimate (and solitary, in a good way) of an experience that was all the while looking into the vastness of space.  I was wondering if and how your program supports quiet reflection and conveys that sense of intimacy of individual experience - the ‘My’ in My Sky Tonight.

     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Maureen Callanan

    Maureen Callanan

    Co-Presenter
    May 19, 2018 | 08:00 p.m.

    What a great question; thank you Joyce!  We pilot-tested a stargazing activity but it was difficult to integrate into a daytime workshop setting.  I think this is would be a great idea to keep in mind as we develop new activities for our next phase where we'll be focused more on families observing patterns over time.  

     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Darrell Porcello

    Darrell Porcello

    Informal Educator
    May 18, 2018 | 05:04 p.m.

    Hey Anna...I always enjoy seeing all the engaged and excited young kids in your videos! What a great result from all your work, and the work of your ASP, educator, and researcher colleagues, to perfect these STEM-rich hands-on activities and PD materials for early educators. I can't wait to see how these findings drive your continued work with storybooks. I'm glad that you and ASP are part of the NISE Network team working on the Explore Science: Earth and Space toolkit.  

     
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    Anna Hurst
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    Sabrina Upcraft

    K-12 Teacher
    May 18, 2018 | 09:15 p.m.

    I am a kindergarten teacher in central Pa.  It was nice to see a video focused on our younger learners engaging in science activities.  I think many underestimate the ability of our young learners to develop understandings about science topics.  When they are presented with topics that are developmentally appropriate and of interest to them, I am always amazed at what they can do.  It is great to see a project such as yours.  I am excited to see more about the My Sky Tonight project.  Is it possible for me to see some of the lessons or materials that you have created through this project?  I am always looking for engaging, hands on, well thought out science materials and activities.  I would also be interested in hearing more about your research focused on the use of storybooks in science.  From my own personal experience, I have seen that a well written story book can motivate a group of children to learn more about a topic.    

  • Icon for: Julia Plummer

    Julia Plummer

    Co-Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 03:56 p.m.

    Please check out our My Sky Tonight website where you'll find write-ups of our activities, descriptions of materials, and videos showing how to do the activities with children.  I think you'll find these activities will work well in your kindergarten class.  Some of my preservice elementary teachers at Penn State have taught Bear's Shadow in kindergarten classrooms.

     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Kristina Yu

    Kristina Yu

    Informal Educator
    May 20, 2018 | 05:14 p.m.

    Hi Anna & team - thank you for sharing this lovely project.  I'm looking forward to following your next phase, which sounds like it will be rich with resources for families.  I am wondering about the age you are working toward for stargazing activities?  I would love to encourage stargazing with my young daughter and her friends but am often up against . . . bedtime (they are usually in bed before the stars come out in summer).

  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Lead Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 04:38 p.m.

    Thanks for your comment, Kristina. 

    We are excited to do more work with families. We haven't begun any activity development for that context yet - right now we are working out our research questions and considering new funding options while wrapping up our current NSF funding. Our work on My Sky Tonight was focused on museum programs, so didn't include nighttime programming. We did try out a "Night Tent" - a black tent with glow-in-the dark constellations on the inside, plus toy nocturnal animals, and nighttime sounds like crickets and owls - but ultimately ended up cutting it from the final version of our toolkit because it proved logistically challenging for the museums and the materials were cost-prohibitive. 

    All that said, based on my experiences working with young children through work on My Sky Tonight and on conversations with my coworkers with children, I'd say that children are able to recognize familiar constellations like Orion at age 4 or 5 with the right encouragement from the adults in their lives. Early bedtimes are certainly a challenge, so winter is the time for stargazing, or you could make a special outing one night in the summer where they get the treat of staying up late!

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