When not doing research, I enjoy participating in public outreach, particularly in encouraging young people to pursue careers in astronomy and other sciences. Astronomy has a broad appeal, and outreach can be a great way to tell the public about new and exciting research, get people excited about science, and tell people about the career path of an astronomer. I have participated in a number of events both at Ohio State and Carnegie, and below is more information about a few of the ongoing/regular events that I have been a part of, as well as links for you to learn more.
If you're local to the Pasadena area and are interested in events run by Carnegie, please see our Education and Events site.
Every year Carnegie Observatories holds a free open house outreach event, where people from the local LA/Pasadena community can visit the Observatories campus and meet Carnegie researchers and staff. Activities include talks from Carnegie astronomers, exhibits on the history of Carnegie and its scientists, an "Ask an Astronomer" station, a tour of the machine shop, planetarium shows, and many activities for children, like the "Make a Constellation" station. The Open House is a particularly great event for children, as we always have multiple activities for all ages, and kids can complete an "activity passport" to earn a prize by trying out all the different demonstrations.
Since coming to Carnegie in 2017 I have participated as a volunteer for two Open Houses, running the Galilean Cannon supernova demonstration and answering questions at the "Ask an Astronomer" table. If you're interested in attending future Open Houses, please see the Open House website.
Since its reopening in 2013 until I graduated in 2017 I was involved with running the OSU planetarium, and I presented shows from 2014 to 2015. The Arne Slettebak Planetarium, located on the Ohio State campus, serves the University and central-Ohio communities with educational programs in Astronomy. It is operated by the Astronomy Department and has recently been remodeled with a state-of-the-art digital projection system. The planetarium holds free shows every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the school year that are open to the public and can also be booked for private shows. For more information or to reserve tickets to a show, please see the planetarium website.
In addition to planetarium shows, the OSU Astronomy Department holds regular public star viewing nights from the roof of Smith Laboratory called "Star Parties." I volunteered to help run telescopes and answer astronomy questions for Star Party attendees, and to help run accompanying planetarium shows. For more info about Star Parties and other OSU Astronomy Department outreach events, please see the OSU Astronomy Department's outreach page.
In February and November of 2014 I helped co-lead the OSU Astronomy and Physics Departments' involvement in the Breakfast of Science Champions. The Breakfast of Science Champions brings Columbus city middle school students to the Ohio State campus to have breakfast and participate in science, math, and engineering activities with graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty. The goal of the Breakfast of Science Champions is to encourage students' participation in STEM fields and get them exited about a career in science, math, or engineering. In two BoSC events in 2014, the Astronomy and Physics Departments, along with the Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP), hosted five classes of eighth grade students for breakfast, gave them a planetarium show, and led them in numerous activities designed to teach them about astronomy and the type of work that professional astronomers do. As part of my duties as co-leader, I also participated in pre-visits to three of the schools to introduce the students to the concepts they would be learning more about at the actual event and get them excited for their visit. We received excellent feedback about our participation in the Breakfast of Science Champions, and Ohio State continues to host BosC events yearly.
Banner image credit Rachael Beaton.