Frequently Asked Questions About Family ASTRO
Many different kinds of leaders can host Family ASTRO events. Often, educators and astronomers act as co-hosts, each bringing his or her own expertise to the partnership. Museum educators, community group leaders, schoolteachers, amateur astronomy club members, professional astronomers, and parents with an interest in science can all be Family ASTRO hosts. One key requirement is that leaders attend a one-day Family ASTRO training session before doing their own events.
Event leaders determine the size of the group and the kinds of families who attend their event. Usually, Family ASTRO events are for between 10-40 people, or between 5-12 families. Adults and children attend the event together. We strongly recommend that event leaders make a special effort to reach out to diverse, under-served family groups.
Yes. In Family ASTRO we take care to define "family" as broadly as possible. The activities are designed for children to do with adult caregivers. Those caregivers can be grandparents, guardians, aunts, uncles, mentors, or other adults.
Most of the activities are designed for kids ages 8 and up.
This is a choice made by each event leader. Since the activities are designed for ages 8 and up it can sometimes be disturbing to have kids that are much younger attend and demand attention. Leaders sometimes advise parents in the event announcement that there is an age limit on participants (and that they will need to find babysitting for their younger kids). Some leaders can arrange childcare for young children at the event site.
Schools, community centers, and museums are the most popular sites for Family ASTRO events. Some event leaders use rooms at local service organization or athletic facilities. In general, we recommend against using private homes for such an event (unless people know each other well) because of liability and clean-up issues.
As a Family ASTRO event leader, you are responsible for securing a venue in which to hold the event, recruiting families to attend, and providing extra materials needed for the activities.
We have found that it is of tremendous benefit for families to attend more than one Family ASTRO event. We strongly encourage leaders to offer a series of events since most families enjoy coming back for a second event (a few weeks later), where they compare notes, ask further questions, get help with problems that came up at home, and get new activities to try.
In a typical Family ASTRO workshop, activity stations are set up in the room when participants arrive. The stations might be right at the tables where families sit, or arranged around the walls of the room. Each station has an activity that can be done without too much help, by following instructions and using materials at that location. Families are encouraged to explore the stations until everyone has arrived for group activities. Some event leaders also make time for exploring stations in the middle of the event, since it allows everyone to get up and move around, and lets any late-comers experience the stations.
In the kits we provide for leaders, we have tried to give some background information on the topic of the kit, detailed instructions for each activity, and recommendations for further reading and helpful web sites. Many educators without significant astronomy background find that they can lead a family event just by reading over our materials carefully. Still, if your background in astronomy is not especially strong, you may want to find a volunteer professional or amateur astronomer to help you lead your first few events. Your local Project ASTRO site coordinator may be able to find such a volunteer for you. For a listing of sites around the country take a look at the map of Family ASTRO sites.
Participants in Family ASTRO events do not need any background in astronomy or science.
Click here to see a map of Family ASTRO sites around the country.
You can order Family ASTRO kits from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific at (800) 335-2624 or online at www.astrosociety.org. Click here for more information about prices and products.
If you are a trained Family ASTRO event leader, talk to your site coordinator about ordering materials in quantity at a discount. You can find contact information at the map of Family ASTRO sites.