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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, we offer generous multi-student discounts.
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 Advanced Mastery program?
The Advanced Mastery program is an opportunity for students to learn even more about Astronomy while earning high school credit for this science course. In addition to all of the training and information made available in the Basic course, your student will be given hands-on projects, history and literature assignments, field trip ideas, and Bible-based projects.
Your students will also be able to participate in 6 live, interactive trainings with Mr. Gilkerson where they’ll go deeper in the study of astronomy and have opportunities to ask their questions and get answers.Training will be recorded for Mastery students who are not able to attend live.
Current schedule for 2018-2019: September 17, November 5, January 7, February 18, April 1, and May 13 at 11:30 AM (EST).
The extra assignments and trainings will be enough to allow students to earn high school credit for this course.
What are the differences between the upper level courses and the elementary course?
The upper level courses (both the basic and the advanced) are designed for students in the junior and senior high years:
• Video lessons are longer than the elementary-level videos and taught using language more suitable for teens.
• The concepts taught in the upper level course go much deeper than the elementary course, which is more basic.
• The upper level courses have weekly outdoor observation activities (often in the late evening or early morning) which are more appropriate for those looking for an observational/lab science. Activities in the elementary course include more hands-on creative projects, better for younger children.
• The recommended reading for the upper level courses is a textbook geared more towards teens. Reading assignments for the elementary course are living books that can be used as read-alouds or assigned as independent reading, geared towards students ages 6-11.
How much time per week will this class take?
That depends on if your student takes the Basic course or the Advanced Mastery Course.
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 and final exams are longer (about 2o-30 minutes). There will be weekly reading assignments assigned from Sign & Seasons.
If your student takes the Advanced Mastery program, they’ll also have 6 live interactive trainings with Mr. Gilkerson that each average 1.5 hours. To acquire enough hours for high school credit they should also complete 10 of the 20 assignments suggested during the Advanced course.
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, make one yourself, or use a variety of apps that will turn a smartphone into a red light.
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. These readings are optional for Basic level students, required for Advanced Mastery students. 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.
If students are in the Advanced Mastery program, they may attend the 6 live trainings with Mr. Gilkerson which typically last 1.5 hours each. These trainings are also recorded for those who are unable to attend live. Current schedule for 2018-2019: September 17, November 5, January 7, February 18, April 1, and May 13 at 11:30 AM (EST).
How long will I have access to the course?
You’ll have access to 1 new video per week throughout the school year, starting in early September. The course officially ends in mid-May, and the videos will be available for review through the end of 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 observation assignments 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 will inevitably have cloudy skies every day. Not to worry. Most outdoor activities can be postponed a week without a problem. When 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 the one at neave.com. 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.
For younger students, we recommend our Elementary level program.
As the parent, you are the best person to determine if this class is appropriate for your student. Preview the course by clicking “Preview” above.
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 his university’s 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?
In most states, students need to accumulate at least 120 hours of instruction and course work to receive a high school credit.
We now offer the Experience Astronomy: Advanced Mastery program so your child can earn high school credit. Students need to complete all of the following to accumulate the necessary course hours:
• complete all the course lectures
• take all the quizzes and exams
• complete all recommended readings
• complete all outdoor observation assignments
• attend all 6 live training events or watch the recordings (available exclusively to Advanced Mastery students)
• complete a minimum of 10 of the 20 assignments from the book Experience Astronomy: Going Deeper (available exclusively to Advanced Mastery students)
Please contact us with any questions you might have