[Educators] OLPC and astronomy

Benjamin, Thomas THOMAS.BENJAMIN at det.nsw.edu.au
Mon Jul 8 20:03:29 EDT 2013

This weekend I had an out of this world experience. The centre of Milky Way passed right over the top of me. Out away from the city lights I was able to see the clusters and nebulae with the naked eye. Focus on the dust lanes instead of the glow makes it all leap into 3D. Who needs a telescope? Even my 11.5 degree wide angle binoculars were no match for the naked eye. That's the experience I'd like to share. The irony is that the more remote the Southern Hemisphere location the better the view. But Northerners have the advantage when it comes to M31. The big visual challenge becomes seeing our own Local Group.

 Indeed, if it were possible in some alternative physics to go into intergalactic space, wouldn't that be precisely what we'd see with a Dobson? .. ie . surrounded by nothing but faint ghostly glows of galaxies, with only the nearest one actually discernible to the naked eye. A Dobson telescope is a spacecraft that can take us there. And a dark sky site beats any telescope.

We lump space travel, cosmology, physics and everything else into astronomy. Kids like colour and movement so are often disappointed with the static views of the real thing. I queued up for hours to get a glimpse of Mars through Sydney Observatory and Astronomy Club telescopes on nearest approach only to find that the view from my own vintage C-5 from mid-city was pretty similar.

So I think there is a huge amount of strategic thinking to do about what learning/experience objectives we should be seeking.

Tom Benjamin

-----Original Message-----
From: educators-bounces at lists.laptop.org [mailto:educators-bounces at lists.laptop.org] On Behalf Of Edward Cherlin
Sent: Tuesday, 9 July 2013 5:34 AM
To: Educators and OLPC
Subject: Re: [Educators] OLPC and astronomy

I am sorry to take so long in replying.

In addition to the astronomy software for OLPC XOs (such as Star Chart, http://activities.sugarlabs.org/en-US/sugar/addon/4300 ) and the possibility of attaching a telescope, we would like to develop interactive learning materials on every aspect of science, the history of scientific discovery, scientific method, and the tools of science, such as data acquisition, modeling, and data analysis. We have conventional XO and Sugar materials at FLOSS Manuals (http://en.flossmanuals.net/, including Make your own sugar activities and Etoys Reference Manual, where I am a contributor), and we are looking into the use of HTML5 (discussion on the Sugar-Devel mailing list, where you would be welcome), or possibly EPUB3, for integrating software into the learning process. Etoys Book and Stack constructions, based on Apple's Hypercard, are also options being discussed on various Squeak mailing lists. The Sugar Labs program that I manage, Replacing Textbooks, is dedicated to those ideas and others of their kind.


We could discuss a range of topics related to astronomy at every age level, with many possibilities for presentation. Here is one on Galilean gravity, based on ideas from Alan Kay, in a Libre Office document file. (I don't do Windows. ^_^)


I am a big fan of Astronomy Picture of the Day, and of its Spanish translation, Observatorio: Una imagen diaria del Universo (http://observatorio.info/ ). Hoy hay nombres nuevos por los satélites de Pluton, descubiertos en 2011 y 2012 por el Telescopio Espacial Hubble.

On Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 4:23 PM, José Raeiro <zeraeiro at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello,
> I studied astrophysics and I would like to help with whatever I can.
> I'm also a science educator and gave several talks, courses, etc. I 
> taught a 5-years course at the Popular University of Porto.
> Is there any astronomy tool in the standard software pack that comes with OLCP?
> I can help on the creation of content or I can work together with 
> coders to produce an astronomic software tool.
> I believe a planetarium would be essential to this project, since most 
> of the target-public live in dark skies.
> I would also like to discuss the creation of a $20 telescope in the 
> same philosophy of OLPC.
> Kind Regards,
> José Raeiro
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Edward Mokurai (默雷/निशब्दगर्ज/نشبدگرج) Cherlin Silent Thunder is my name, and Children are my nation.
The Cosmos is my dwelling place, the Truth my destination.
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