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Can I enroll more than one child in this course at the same time?
Each student receives his or her own grade in the course, so each student should enroll separately. We do offer generous multi-student discounts for families enrolling more than one student in the class at the same time.
Do you have a discount for enrolling multiple children?
Yes. Your second student gets a 50% discount. Subsequent students are 75% off the full price.
Can I take this course if I live outside the United States?
This course is for those who live in the Northern Hemisphere—so this includes all of North America, Europe, and most of Asia. This course is not for those living in the Southern Hemisphere.
What is the Astronomy Club?
The Astronomy Club is an opportunity for your student to go deeper in the material of Experience Astronomy. When you register your student for the Astronomy Club, they will receive…
1. Exclusive access to 6 live webinars with Mr. Gilkerson – During these webinars, Mr. Gilkerson will go more in depth with specific astronomy concepts and will be available for questions your student might have about the material or the course. Meetings will be at 11:30am EST on the following dates…
• September 19, 2016
• November 21, 2016
• January 16, 2017
• February 20, 2017
• March 20, 2017
• May 15, 2017
2. Exclusive access to Experience Astronomy: Going Deeper assignment guide – This packet of information offers you, the parent, 16 optional assignments you can give to your student throughout the school year. These assignments include more hands-on activities, papers on specific topics, and field trip ideas.
The Astronomy Club is perfect for parents who want their children to go more in depth with the subject of astronomy or for older students looking to earn high school credit.
The cost is $150 extra PER FAMILY (not per child). Have as many students in your immediate family take advantage of the club as you want.
How much time per week will this class take?
On average, video lessons are 20 minutes long. Most of observation activities take 15-30 minutes, though certain weeks might be slightly longer or shorter. Quizzes are also offered weekly, and these will be relatively short (about 5 minutes). The midterm exam and final exam are a little longer (about 2o minutes). There will be weekly reading assignments, and these will vary based on your child’s reading level. Other optional activities will be suggested if you want to increase your child’s exposure to the material.
What supplies or books will I need besides what’s included in the course?
This course is a “naked-eye” astronomy course. That means, you won’t need to purchase any telescopes, binoculars, or other specialized equipment for your student.
Though not required, your student would benefit from a small red flashlight. Since students will be outside in the dark, drawing what they see in the sky, a red light will help them see their paper without destroying their night vision. You can easily purchase one online, or there are a variety of apps you can download that will turn a smartphone into a red light. The first class of this course gives students instruction about how to make their own from a regular white flashlight.
It is highly recommended, though not required, that you purchase the textbook Signs and Seasons: Understanding the Elements of Classical Astronomy, by Jay Ryan. In our opinion, this is the finest textbook on the market for learning about the motions of the heavens. We will assign reading from this textbook, but the reading is not required to complete the course. The reading will give more explanation to the concepts discussed in the videos.
Is the course self-paced or does my child need to view the course videos on certain days or times?
The course officially starts in the beginning of September. Students will have access to one new video every week (except for a three-week break around Christmas when there will be no new assignments). Videos go live each week on Sunday morning (EST), but students can watch them anytime throughout the week.
Lessons correspond to weekly outdoor observation activities. Because the goal of the class is to see the changes and movements in the sky over the course of nine months, the course is paced so students cannot “get ahead” by doing a lot of lessons all at once. Because the sky is always changing, it is important for students do their best to keep up with the assignments week by week.
Will we access to the videos forever?
No, you will have access to 1 new video per week throughout the school year. The course officially ends in mid-May, and the videos will be available for review through June. Once each video is live, your student can watch and re-watch it anytime he or she wants throughout the duration of the course.
What kind of outdoor observation activities will be expected of my student?
There are 33 outdoor assignments in all. All assignments involve observation with the naked eye (no telescopes needed) and some kind of note-taking or drawing of what is seen.
Most activities can be completed in 15-30 minutes, but all of these activities involve going outside at specific times. Some will require students to go out at 10pm, at midnight, at 5am, etc. So while the course activities are relatively easy, they need to be done at specific times.
What about bad weather?
Bad weather is inevitable, making star observations impossible. Clear weather should be taken advantage of whenever possible. Never look at a clear sky and say, “Well, I can always do it tomorrow.”
That said, some weeks have cloudy skies every day. Not to worry. Most outdoor activities can be postponed a week without a problem. When the bad weather doesn’t let up, it may be necessary to skip activities, but this will not interfere with the overall purpose of the course.
What if I live in a place with a lot of “light pollution”?
There are some areas where viewing the stars at night is more difficult because of manmade “light pollution.” If this is your situation, there are a few things to consider…
1. The e-course focuses on the brightest, most-obvious constellations, many of which are viewable even in suburban locations. Don’t discount doing all the outdoor activities in your area just because of manmade light.
2. For the constellations you cannot see easily, a distant second-best option is using an online planetarium like Neave.com/planetarium. Here’s a video about how to use it.
What ages or grades is this course appropriate for?
The class is designed for kids 12 years old and up, though younger may benefit from this class depending on their level of maturity.
As the parent, you are the best person to determine if this class is appropriate for your student. Please watch the two sample lessons and see the sample Field Guide pages to see if you believe it would be a good fit for your child.
Please note, students will need to go outside at various times late at night and early in the morning throughout the year to complete their field guide assignments. Students need to be old enough to be up during somewhat odd hours.
Is this course just for homeschoolers?Absolutely not! While it certainly is a great course for homeschoolers, this course is great for any student who wants to learn more about astronomy whether they’re homeschooled, public schooled, or private schooled. The nice part of the course is, students can watch the videos any time of the day or night and the outside activities aren’t done during normal school hours.
Do you teach about creation and/or evolution in this class?
While this class touches on the reasons why God created the stars, it does not get into concepts about the age of the universe or scientific theories about the beginning of the universe. The course does not touch on how to interpret the days of creation in Genesis 1. The focus of the class is to discover the motions of the heavens, not the creation or history of the heavens.
Who’s the instructor?
The instructor for this course is Luke Gilkerson. Mr. Gilkerson and his wife Trisha are authors of multiple homeschooling and parenting books. They blog together at Intoxicated On Life. During his undergraduate program, Mr. Gilkerson worked in the university Astronomy department as a stargaze instructor, and for the last several years has taught astronomy at his local homeschool co-op.
Can my student earn high school credit for this class?
High schoolers are welcome to take this course, but we do not assign credit for classes. This is left up to each parent to determine. If you are a homeschooler, it’s important to understand any rules and laws in your state that might govern this issue.
If your state does not have any laws surrounding this issue, I’d recommend watching this webinar to learn how to appropriately assign grades, credits, and put together a high school transcript for your child.
Please contact us with any questions you might have!