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Family ASTRO: History and Evolution

Family ASTRO was initially developed to expand the ASP’s flagship program Project ASTRO™, which has partnered thousands of volunteer amateur and professional astronomers around the country with classroom teachers and students in their communities. We soon discovered with Project ASTRO that there was tremendous interest in what the astronomers and their educator partners were doing in the classroom among the families of their students.

In 2000, we received pilot funding from the Informal Science Education Division of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a strategy and materials to bring astronomy in a more systematic way to families in the same communities where Project ASTRO already operates. We told NSF, “We wanted to get families away from watching Hollywood stars and outside to follow the real ones!”

Since then, we’ve trained not only many Project ASTRO partners, but also hundreds of other educators across the country to use our series of Leader Kits and Take-Home Activities to lead fun, hands-on Astronomy Events in their communities. Through these educators, which include classroom teachers, homeschool teachers, amateur and professional astronomers, volunteer college students, science center and museum staff, librarians, afterschool providers, park and recreation staff, and youth group leaders (e.g., boys’ and girls’ clubs, Girl and Boy Scouts, etc.), thousands of children and adults have participated to date in one or more Family ASTRO events.

Family ASTRO is now available to anyone who wants to expand and/or share his or her knowledge of the universe. Educators of all backgrounds can click here to learn about getting involved and acquiring our series of Leader Kits. Each Leader Kit includes a “Leader Guide” full of activities (with detailed instructions, suggested agendas, and background information) and access to online resources (including training videos for those with high-speed internet access).

For those educators looking for more intensive Family ASTRO training, the Regional Sites of our National Network offer hands-on Event Leader training workshops. Click here to see if there is a site near you.

Finally, our Take-Home Activities (games and kits) are available to anyone who wants to have fun at home with family and friends and learn some astronomy at the same time. So, whether you want to spend some quality time under the stars, play a cooperative board game while learning about the Moon, test your knowledge of the Solar System, or hold a “deep space” night of cards, we think you’ll find a Family ASTRO game or kit that suits your cosmic mood. Click here to find out more about these activities and how to order them.