Astronomy Camp = IYA x 22: 22 Years of International Astronomy Education

Type Conference Paper
Names Eric Jon Hooper, D. W. McCarthy, Astronomy Camp Staff
Proceedings Title Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society
Conference Name American Astronomical Society, AAS Meeting #215, #445.09
Volume 42
Pages 412
Date January 1, 2010
Short Title Astronomy Camp = IYA x 22
Library Catalog NASA ADS
Abstract Do you remember childhood dreams of being an astronomer, or the ravenous desire for ever larger glass and better equipment as an amateur astronomer? What if your child or the person down the street could live that dream for a weekend or a week? The University of Arizona Astronomy Camp continues to substantiate those dreams after more than two decades in existence. Astronomy Camp is an immersion hands-on field experience in astronomy, ranging from two to eight nights, occurring a few times per year. Participants span an age range from elementary students to octogenarians. The three basic offerings include adult camps, a beginning Camp for teenagers, and an advanced teen Camp. Several variants of the basic Camp model have evolved, including an ongoing decade long series of specialized Camps for Girl Scout leaders from across the country, funded by the NIRCam instrument development program for the James Webb Space Telescope. The advanced teen Camp is a microcosm of the entire research arc: the participants propose projects, spend the week collecting and analyzing data using research grade CCDs, infrared arrays, and radio/sub-millimeter telescopes, and finish with a presentation of the results. This past summer the Camps moved to Kitt Peak National Observatory for the first time, providing access to a vast and diverse collection of research instruments, including the 0.9-meter WIYN and 2.3-meter Bok telescopes, the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope, and the 12-meter ARO radio telescope. Education research into the Camp's impact indicates that reasons for its appeal to youth include a learner-centered and personal approach with a fun attitude toward learning, authentic scientific inquiry led by mentors who are real scientists, a peer group with common interests in science and engineering, and the emotional appeal of spending time on a dark "sky island" devoted to the exploration of nature.
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