There is a deep pool of resources right outside the front door. Parents, grandparents, alumni, members of your local community, all have a vested interest in your school and giving your students the best educational experience possible. They may be writers, engineers, harbormasters, or astronomers and every one of them is eager and willing to share their expertise and experience with your class. Just ask.
Ron Myrick is one of my resources. He’s the grandparent of a student and an amateur astronomer of many years’ experience. Ron got his start reading science fiction and moved from there to larger and larger telescopes and finally to a solar telescope. Which brings him to our campus. At the suggestion of his daughter, Amy, I called Ron and found that he was indeed very interested in speaking to my class and giving the kids a look at the sun. We spoke by phone twice, discussing our expectations and what the content of the class would be, then shared a Google Doc with a lesson plan. As always, it’s about ten minutes of presentation, then time for questions and then outside to the scope!
Ron talked about how he got interested in astronomy, why we study the stars, and then we took the class outside. It was a beautiful, clear Fall day, and the surface of the Sun was quite active. I lost count of the “Wow!”‘s and “Awesome!”‘s and “Cool”‘s. We had Ron set up for afternoon recess and opened up the viewing to the rest of the student body.
Very easy, very additive, right in line with our charter, and gave the kids a chance to talk to a real guy, and look at the sun through a real telescope in real time. I stress “real” because no handout or website or slide show can ever compare to actually doing it. We hope we made an astronomer that day.