Astronomy is such a fun and exciting field, and communicating science effecitively to the public is a great passion of mine. I believe that astronomy, and the sciences in general, should be accessible and understandable to everyone. To promote science literacy and share my excitement for the field, I teach physics and astronomy summer classes for high school students, give talks at local senior living communities, assist with young astronomer events for the local astronomy club, help scouts earn their astronomy badge, and present star shows at the RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium.  Information about all these activities can be found below.

University of Rochester Pre-college Programs

Rochester Scholars

Rochester Scholars is a summer pre-college program at the University of Rochester where middle and high school students attend a specialized class of their choice taught by a professional in the field.  I developed and taught a hands on introductory astronomy course for three summers that covers a variety of astronomy topics. This course, along with two others I helped develop, will continue to be offered each summer. Click here for more information about the program.

 

Pre-College Experience in Physics for Young Women

The Pre-College Experience in Physics for Young Women (PREP) program is a summer course for high school girls aimed at getting young women more interested in the sciences. The girls spend the month of July learning about physics and related topics through hands on labs, activities and lectures. I co-taught the class in the summer of 2010 at the University of Rochester. Some of the topics explored include classical mechanics, E&M, particle physics, astronomy, thermodynamics and others. The girls had a blast making their own LED flashlights, "blowing" anti-bubbles,and eating liquid nitrogen icecream.  Click here for more information about the program.


Life Long Learning at Senior Living Communities

As part of their life long learning initiatives, many senior living communities in Rochester, NY invite scientists from various fields to come speak to their residents. Over the past few years, I have been giving monthly astronomy talks at a variety of communities and teaching them everything from basic astronomy to Einstein's Theory of Relativity. This work has been published in CAPjournal, and here is a list of topics I have covered:

Basics of astronomical observing
NASA and you: how astronomy affects your daily life
Our solar system (5 lessons)
Exploring the International Space Station 
Mars Science Lab Curiosity
Star and planet foramtion
Searching for exoplanets
NASA's great observatories (5 lessons)
Ground and space based observatories (3 lessons)
Life in the Universe (4 lessons)
The extreme universe. (6 lessons)
The Higgs Boson
Einstein explained (4 lessons)
Astronomical discoveries (yearly summary)
Solar observing and night time star parties

 

The Astronomy Section of the Rochester Academy of Science (ASRAS)

ASRAS is a local amateur astronomy club with over 250 members (children and adults) who have a passion for astronomy. I am currently the President of this club, and participate in various club and public outreach events that are held at our observatory in Ionia, NY. Below are just some of the events I have helped run or participated in.


 ASRAS annual Science Summer Camp

The members of ASRAS have put together an exciting science and astronomy camp for children both within the club and the general public. The camp is designed for children ages 7-12, and covers various astronomy topics, along with some physics and earth science topics. As one of the camp directors, I help design and run the camp each year, which runs for one week in the middle of August.  

Teaching at the Marian and Max Farash Center for Observational Astronomy

Throughout the summer, girl and boy scouts visit the Marian and Max Farash Center for Observational Astronomy in Ionia, NY to earn their astronomy badges. Home school groups also visit the observatory to enrich their learning experience and get the chance to do some hands on observing.  Occasionally we take our outreach "on the road" and visit local schools and museums. In 2014 we went to the Mary Cariola Childrens Center and presented a lesson similar to a planetarium star show, something these children would not otherwise have had the opportunity to experience due to their disabilities. 

ASRAS Young Astronomers

Young Astronomers is a program hosted by ASRAS where young children and their families participate in astronomy lessons and activites. These activities include learning how to operate many of our eight observatories in Ionia, NY and learning about the latest astronomical discoveries.

RocheStar Festival

RocheStar Fest is the ASRAS astronomy festival held every summer in Ionia, NY. Families come for a day of astronomy activities, lessons, and observing. I have assisted with organizing the festival, and given short talks on how amateur astronomers can participate in the hunt for exoplanets and the latest news on the search for alien life.

ASRAS Winter Education Series

During the winter months, ASRAS hosts a series of science lectures that focus on amateur astronomy and how club members can get invovled in pro/amateur astronomy projects. I have given the following lessons:

2012: Worlds Beyond Our World: An Introduction to Exoplanets
2013: Spectroscopy with an LHIRES III spectrograph in Rochester NY
2014: Citizen Science projects


Rochester Institute of Technology Outreach Activities

Imagine RIT

Imagine RIT is a yearly festival hosted by the Rochester Institute of Technology. At the festival, students showcase all the work and research they've done in a fun and hands on way to the general public. I developed and coordinate the exhibit for the astrophysics graduate students which showcases our research. Visitors get to see images we have taken with ground and space-based telescopes, play astronomy trivia, view the sun through a telescope, and play with an infrared camera. The students will continue to hold this exhibit showcasing our latest work and discoveries each year. Check out the Imagine RIT website for more information.


RIT Observatory Open House

The RIT observatory hosts quarterly open houses for the public to come and view the site and look through telescopes. Observatory director Dr Michael Richmond, along with graduate and undergraduate students at RIT show off interesting astronomical objects to the public, as well as teach them about viewing through telescopes and binoculars. Check out the RIT observatory homepage for information about the next open house!

RMSC Elementary School Children Visit RIT Observatory

The RIT observatory is used for both scientific research and outreach to the community. Each year, elementary school school children visit to learn about observatories and how telescopes work. We have taught the children how to use Google Sky to find their favorite sonstellations, and how to safely observe the sun. we also often do a solar system lesson and activity where they learn about the planets and interpret scale sizes of planets.

 

Star Shows at the Strasenburgh Planetarium


The Strasenburgh Planetarium houses an original Carl Zeiss star projector, which was installed in 1968 when the planetarium opened. The Stras offers a wonderful selection of star shows, educational giant screen films, and laser light shows for the general public. Occasionally on weekends, I present star shows which aim to teach people of all ages about our solar system, constellations, and objects in the night sky. The planetarium also offers shows focused on current astronomical discoveries and "hot topics", such as black holes and exoplanets. ASRAS also operates a telescope atop the planetarium where the public can view the real night sky every clear Saturday night.  For more information and show schedules, check out the Strasenburgh Planetarium Website.

 

 

Outreach Activities in the Rochester Community

Guest Lecturer at local K-12 schools

Fellow graduate students and I visit local K-12 shools and give astronomy lessons. We have taught all ages, from our solar system in kindergarten classes to stellar explosions and black holes in high school classes. We also visit special education classrooms and conduct hands on activities with the kids and adults. The students are always amazed at how vast our universe is and enjoy the visit.

Retired Men's Club of Greater Rochester

Once a year I present a summary of the biggest astronomical discoveries from that year to the Retired Men and Women's club of Greater Rochester. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Teaching kindergarterners about the solar system

Teaching Assistant

I have been a teaching assistant for the following classes:

Rochester Institute of Technology
1017-301 University Astronomy
1017-311 University Physics I (mechanics)
1051-300 Introduction to Imaging Systems

University of Rochester:
AST-142 Astrophysics II