About nine years ago, SAS began an outreach/inreach program for local elementary, middle, and high school students that continues today. The goal is to promote interest in and knowledge of science in general as well as astronomy in particular. We are available to design inreach/outreach programs for individual classes based on some of the activities listed below.
The facilities available to us are a 0.4m telescope, several 8 inch telescopes and a newly renovated planetarium. We also have classrooms and computer labs available for some of our other activities.
Telescopes: Set up small 8-inch reflecting telescopes with solar filters on top of Angell Hall and the students can observe sunspots and solar flares on the sun. The 0.4m is also available, but it does not have solar filters and during the day it can only be used to observe Venus when it is sufficiently far from the Sun. We give a tour of the observatory that houses this telescope and explain how professional telescopes work.
Planetarium: We can use this new, state-of-the-art planetarium to show the night sky, talk about the mythology of constellations, or discuss the science behind the night sky. Students will learn what stars we can see from Ann Arbor as well as how to tell the time of year from the stars and other useful facts.
Solar System: Talk about the planets then have the kids make a scale model of the solar system by holding planets the correct distance from the 'sun'. This is to show that planets are not evenly spread out. We also show the relative sizes of each planet with each other.
On an annual basis we help the Society of Physics Students (SPS) with their inreach activities. Since it is a series on different topics in physics each time, they dedicate one day to Astrophysics. Most of the members in SPS do not study Astronomy, so SAS helps with the astronomy inreach. This mainly consists of doing the above activities and providing some of the facilities, such as the telescopes.
We are also willing to participate in other activities outside of campus per request. Last year we were invited to participate in an astronomy themed event hosted by the Hands-On Museum. We have also participated in a Science Night at a local middle school, given tours of the observatory to student camps, worked with a Girl Scout Camp and helped local school science teachers plan astronomy related activities.