Educating our Young Citizen Scientists
I started working at the AAVSO at the beginning of July, as the new administrative assistant. Initially, I was interested in the AAVSO because of the real contributions the organization makes to science, through amateurs and professionals alike. I have never been talented at science, but I do find it fascinating, and the idea that one can be a scientist without having to be "good" at (or interested in) the scholarly aspect of it is a wonderful message that we do not hear nearly often enough.
My great passion is education. I love teaching children and trying to come up with ways to engage them in subjects like history, math, and yes, science. There is a huge push in the teaching community to find innovative ways of teaching these subjects, because they are often seen or described as pointless, and only useful or accessible to the people who go into them as a career. One of my favorite things about the AAVSO is how well the organization contradicts that view. Even a small child understands the difference between a bright star and a duller one, and that understanding forms the foundation for becoming a real amateur astronomer. Everything else is just pictures and practice, if you want it to be.
I hope that the AAVSO's mission can start to interest a new generation in practical science. We find new mysteries in our universe every day, which means there are more and more projects like Citizen Sky for citizen scientists to take on. It would be wonderful to have billions of scientists gazing at trillions of stars, as people learn that they can contribute to science in ways they were never taught in school.
Now that we're in our 100th year, it's a great time to think about your own favorite things about the AAVSO. What do we offer that's most valuable to you? Which of our programs would you like to introduce to the newest generation of potential star observers?