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Version 1.0, please watch for updates.

This is our 16th year doing outreach around the State of Oregon and occasionally into Washington and California.  We visit approximately 300 classrooms each school year, fairly evenly distributed in grade levels.

LOGISTICS OF OUTREACH SESSIONS: (contents in next section)

General Info:  I'm (Rick Kang) probably the person that will come to your classroom.  The program is a collaborative extension of
University of Oregon's Professor Greg Bothun's "Electronic Universe" project (see
We may have other outreach instructors available during the year, particularly in the
Portland and Central Oregon areas.  We create specific sessions for each class, grade appropriate, and addressing specific topics you want covered.
The program fits into many areas of science curriculum FOR ALL GRADE LEVELS INCLUDING EARLY ELEMENTARY.  Content tie-ins can be forces, motion, cycles, electricity, matter and energy, radiation/waves, general physical science, and some areas of geology, meteorology, and ecology.  Within a specific Earth Science/Astronomy program, the Electronic Universe can serve well as an introduction to how we probe deep space as well as answering students' questions later on and providing a capstone conclusional activity such as one of our digital labs (see below for details).

The overall program is called the Electronic Universe because we use and present a lot of electronics and digital technology.  We feature three major digital items: Professor Bothun's new JAVA (interactive web-based) virtual physics labs/demos, projects using a CCD (digital camera), and Oregon Research Institute's new Sun-Earth-Moon virtual reality software.

I like at least 60-90 minutes, but we can do a 30-45 minute session or multiple sessions.  I don't mind doing several repeat sessions during a day.  Minimally, I bring a laptop and LCD projector, so the room needs to have a screen, be darkenable, and have a table for the projector and computer.  If we are doing any of the technology pieces, then I bring in a portable CCD Camera and/or a small Telescope.  If we are doing basic Solar System/Sun-Earth-Moon, we may do some activities outdoors (scale models, and solar viewing).  
For the technology/measuring the sky program, there is extensive hardware setup, about 30 minutes, and also similar take-down time, and several boxes of gear to transport, so placing me in one location and rotating classes in works best.  Since we do a lot of "hands-on" activities, classes should be under 30 students.  We have found that "assemblies" don't work for our main inquiry-based type of program.   If you'd like a show-and-tell or pictureshow type of general program for an assembly, that can be arranged, but our program is primarily an inquiry-based introduction to the science of astrophysics, with a lot of participatory activities.
My schedule can get booked full particularly in the Spring, so please contact me several weeks in advance if possible.

Costwise, this year (Fall, 2005), we’re looking at a two-tiered approach, since Oregon Space Grant funding has unfortunately not materialized thus far:
We’re continuing the “sliding scale”, $10-up for reimbursement of Friends of Pine Mountain’s equipment use costs, per school.  Generally we look at $10/class,

if we do a multi-day multi-session program, could reach $100, but is very negotiable.  Here’s the change:  For classes beyond Lane County (travel, particularly overnight stay involved), I will need reimbursement of my travel expenses (fuel, car rental, meals, lodging) that OSG funding had proposed to cover.  We need to reach agreement on reimbursement provisions/amount prior to my travel.  We’re hoping that alternative funding sources will be found.

I continue to donate my time, I am only requesting travel costs be covered.

Variety of programs for ALL grade levels:

The basic presentation covers how students at any grade level can do real science with the Sky by making observations and measurements.  For grade 4 and higher we provide an introduction to how data can be collected digitally, and how digital data can be measured and put to use.  We generally don't present historical narratives, collections of statistics, nor cover constellation information or lore (we can point you to resources for these topics).

Prep session, prior to outreach, is very important, particularly to clarify vocabulary of objects and vastness of space.  See below for suggested topics, and about the free prep video available.

Basic Theme: Surveying the Sky:  If we examine the sky with our eyes, with a telescope, or with a camera, what do we see?

Can we characterize and classify objects by making observations?
Sorting out objects by apparent size and brightness.
Observing change in appearance and position over time.
Arranging our data to use the data to draw rational conclusions.
Making models to explain our observations.
What are "physical characteristics" of objects/phenomena?
Can we measure such characteristics of very distant objects?

We are concerned with the inquiry-based process of scientific research, not with "factoids".  Our program stays away from "factoids" and does not deal with topics such as constellation lore/history (although these topics are excellent cross-curriculum content!)  Often we deal with questions that do not have a "right answer" nor even any answer at this time.
We encourage students to collect and evaluate data.

Integrated with the above investigative strategies, here are some of the specific content areas that we can work with your students to explore:

a. Introduction to the Solar System:  Sun-Earth-Moon and beyond:  We can address motions/views of Sun-Earth-Moon and Solar System, using kinesthetic models, a new dynamic virtual reality graphical model, scale models, and lots of images from various professional sources.  Why are planets and stars spherical?  Why do they rotate?  Why do the planets orbit the Sun in a plane?  Why do we see the Moon and certain planets only at certain times?  This program is suitable for early elementary, and can be adapted for higher grades where students need information for the Common Curriculum Goals Earth-in-Space Benchmarks.

b. Introduction to Technologies to Explore Deep Space:
How we know what we know about very distant objects/phenomena:
We bring a small Telescope plus a portable CCD Camera that students can use to explore how distant light is collected and detected, and how digital images can be enhanced and measured.  What are the two basic measurements?  What can these measurements tell us about characteristics of distant objects?  This material is very suitable for grades 4-12 and portions can be adapted for early elementary.
We also use a variety of high tech JAVA based interactive graphical "applets" developed by Professor Greg Bothun at U of O to illustrate various principles of physics and astrophysics such as production of photons, production of thermal spectrum, and nature of detectors.
Greg and ORI are both developing new virtual lab activities and we'll showcase these as they become available.

c. Computer Labs: Two years ago we commenced this activity, six schools, from grades 3-12 were successful.  We preload free FITSVIEW image analysis software plus a series of images to analyze.   There are four pairs of images taken one night apart, that have one of the four outer planets (Saturn-Pluto) in each pair of images.  The job of the students is to find the planet in each pair of images and then to identify which planet by measuring relative shift from night to night and also comparing brightness. We do this as a follow-up to the in-class session described in part b, above.  If your school has a Windows or Mac lab, you can participate.

d. Overview of the Cassini-Hugens
Mission to Saturn and Titan  OR

Update on Mars Exploration Rovers Mission:  A powerpoint presentation covering overview of Cassini mission, spacecraft, flight, scientific goals, and showing current images sent back from Saturn and its Moons.  This program will work for larger groups/assemblies.  We do some scale model activities but primarily focus on the information and pictures supplied by NASA and JPL.  We furnish teachers with a summary handout sheet including URLs.

We’re creating a new Mars program for this year, to coincide with the close approach of Earth to Mars later this Fall.  We’ll show latest data, discuss the findings from the past year of Mars exploration, and of course, bring the model

rover for the students to test drive.


Most teachers have requested use of worksheets for classes at 5th grade level and higher.  We normally bring a fill-in-the-blank style worksheet for duplication and distribution at start of class.  
We can send the master to you ahead of time if you wish to print it beforehand.
Sometimes we encourage students to use a blank piece of paper and then we make notes together on a projected window from the laptop.
We supply a key for the teacher for use in review after the class.
We also bring a page for students with a few questions to fill out for feedback for us on how the classes can be improved, and we supply teachers with a more detailed questionaire.  These surveys can be mailed back to me and are usually done for homework or the next day, as our sessions usually run the whole class period.


Tom Cleveland, of Think Video/Lane Community Cable Television, and I, have put together a 28-minute introductory video for use prior to the outreach sessions, or as a stand-alone INTRODUCTION to EXPLORING DEEP SPACE.  The material is suitable for ALL grade levels, but particularly suitable for Elementary and Middle School.  We start with a brief introduction to the emptiness of space by taking an imaginary flight upward from Earth, noting the results and requirements of leaving the atmosphere and running out of air.
Next we cover, using models, the vocabulary of Moon, Planet, Star/Sun, Solar System, Nebula, Galaxy, and Universe.  Then we create a scale model of the Solar System and beyond on a real football field, an activity you can duplicate.  
Finally we explore the basic concepts of light, introducing viewers to the term "photons", and noting that to "see" anything we need a source of photons and a detector of photons (stars and our eyes).  We tie the whole program together with a final demonstration with a flashlight to show how photons from a distant source spread out, thus why objects in deep space are so dim, so hard to explore.  
The actual classroom outreach program then gives the students the opportunities to explore the collection/detection/measuring technologies (telescopes and CCD cameras) and includes computer labs where actual research can be done.  
When you contact me to schedule your outreach session, I'll mail you a prep video along with several worksheets and answer keys to complement the video.  I'll pick up the video when I come to your classroom.  There is no cost for the video, but we do need it returned.

Responses have been very positive from Elementary and Middle Schoolers.  Most High School students have felt that the video was too simplistic for them, although some have commented that the concepts/overview have been very helpful.

Our major concern is that students have the overview of vast distances, hierarchy/vocabulary of types of objects, and initial exposure to concept of photons for the technology program, as we don't have time within the class to cover these topics.  For example, the students should understand the difference between a Solar System and a Galaxy, functionally, in appearance, and in scale.

If you don't wish to go this route or don't have enough time to get the video mailed to you, I can attach a basic vocabulary/distance scales info sheet to an e-mail message to you, or you can find this document at the Friends of PMO web site.


We now have a standard solar filter for the 6" telescope that I bring to classrooms, so if the sky is clear, there is potentially the opportunity to view sunspots.  We can set up the telescope outside before or after class or during lunch or recess.  This is not an H-alpha filter like we have at
Pine Mountain that shows the solar prominences, but the standard filter still offers very interesting views of the solar "surface" features.  Queing up to view through the telescope takes time, so this usually doesn't work well during a class period as too many students are left idle, but is certainly suitable as a supplemental before/after class/school activity.


Occasionally schools request an evening sky observing program in conjunction with the classroom outreach.  This may be feasible, working with your local Astronomy Club/Astronomical Society, or with any other local people who can bring large telescopes.  We can set up the portable CCD Camera on a table outside, and students have a great time taking actual images of some of the larger objects in the sky, such as galaxies, star clusters, and nebulas.  We can discuss the arrangements for each request specifically, as resources vary considerably around the State.  We need to consider sky visibility, lighting interference, sprinklers, and security issues of the viewing site beforehand.

VIRTUAL REALITY (VR) Sun-Earth-Moon (SEM) project:

Oregon Research Institute (ORI), in Eugene, has created a VR program where the user can "fly" his/her craft around, above, and below the Sun, Earth, and Moon (other planets may be added later).  The goal is for the user to conceptualize the motions, orientations, and views of these objects by being able to gain a wide variety of physical perspectives not normally available.  Explorations include phases of the Moon and the orbits and periods of the Earth and Moon and their relationships to the position of the Sun.  This program, called SEM, is funded by the Federal Department of Education.  ORI Prime Investigator, Dr. Dean Inman, wrote the grant as a program designed to help Orthopedically Impaired (OI) students do science labs that they ordinarily would not be able to access.
When I saw the software in early Summer, 2002, I was immediately struck that non-OI students should also be able to put these explorations to good use, and also noted that the software serves to illustrate many of the ODE's Earth-in-Space benchmarks.  
I am now working with ORI to develop teacher and student materials for use of the SEM program, and will be introducing SEM in many of my outreach classes.  Dr. Inman and I will be looking for teachers who are interested in collaborating to investigate the efficacy of SEM, comparing how students learn with conventional strategies versus SEM, for both OI and regular students.  
The software is free and is available either as a download off the web from or from a CD-ROM that ORI can send you.   Fed Ed has also funded availability of high video performance computers from ORI for classrooms wishing to participate.  Please contact me if you are interested in participating, whether or not you have OI students.


Digital data can be used by students of all ages.  Here are some suggested projects that we can assist you to implement in your classroom.  Depending on student academic levels, you could use/adapt several projects at a wide variety of grade levels.
The projects can begin as inquiries after viewing some initial digital images of the sky (or viewing the real sky for that matter!)  If you come up with your own project, we can assist you with data and data analysis software.  We can demonstrate a basic project listed below during outreach and can then walk your students through the project in your computer lab.

a. How many stars (how many galaxies)?
Starting from a rudimentary counting exercise, students can explore images from various areas of the sky and images taken with a variety of exposure times.  Questions can be generated concerning distribution of objects, types of objects, and how much of what's out there we are really able to see, why and why not.  This is a very open-ended project that can be a real eye-opener to the vastness of space and the nature of how science is done and is very suitable for lower elementary grade levels.

b. Do any objects shift position in the sky?
This involves astrometric (positional) measurements, over a period of time.  Starting by "blinking" (comparing) images of the same area of sky over one or more nights, students can search for objects that shift relative position and then attempt to explain the shift observed.  Students can derive the basic relationship between distance and parallactic shift and thus sort out Solar System objects versus Galactic objects, discover asteroids, and can begin to sort out the various planets at various distances and approximate the orbital radii.
See the astrometric project, initiated by Silverton High School Teacher, Ray Kaser, described as the computer lab option in the Contents of Outreach Sessions section above.

Another astrometric project involves the search for asteroids.  This is an authentic research project with potentially very useful results (saving Earth!).  Students can request data or can scan archived data.  Best done with Richard Berry's AIP4WIN image analysis software, which when combined with a digital database, will allow the user to accurately determine coordinates of any candidates.  Data can then be compared with list of known objects compiled by Lowell Observatory, and if object is truly a new discovery, the discoverer may participate in the naming of the object.

c. Why are some objects brighter than others?
This involves photometric (brightness) measurements and leads to measurement of distances, temperatures, sizes, and brings up issues of instrument calibration.  At the basic level, students can intuitively conceptualize the relationships and can begin to characterize and classify objects in the sky.  
We have archived sets of data of stars of several constellations, which can be measured for relative brightnesses.
At more advanced levels, we can furnish images filtered in various colors (BVR) which would lead to measurement of temperature from the Planck Blackbody Curve and ultimately to construction of an H-R diagram and determining stellar age.


Archived data can be "FTPd" (we like WS_FTP software to do this) or "Timbuktud" (
Timbuktu software from from IP
Contact Rick ( for user name/password.
Also contact Rick if you want to acquire new data either from our COWCAM (1/2 degree FOV, BVR filters available, 1Kx1K
pixel CCD, 5 Meg FITS format images) or from our PIGGY (1 degree FOV, no filters, 242x375 pixel CCD, 300 KB FITS format images), we may be able so set up remote imaging sessions for you.
We encourage you to select suitable targets and to furnish us with the identity, RA/DEC, and desired integration time and filters for your targets.  We can provide an initial digital sky tour if you wish.
There is a $20 charge to set up a remote imaging session, and you will need to have
Timbuktu software (from running on your computer.  There may be local firewall issues to resolve.

See the FOPMO web site for links to DATA ANALYSIS SOFTWARE


Please make advance reservation with Mark Dunaway, or 541-382-8331 if you are planning to bring your class (or any group larger than 10 people) during regular tour season
(Fri-Sat evenings Memorial Day weekend through September, or during
the off season).
We are now closed due to winter weather, but come March or April if the
snows don’t make the road impassable, you may be able to bring your group
to PMO if Mark can fit you in…dark moon weekends fill quickly).
Program starts at dusk, check with Mark for exact times as may change as darkness falls later or ealier.  Also check with Mark on rates, we’ve had to increase our group rates as we’ve had to find funding for staff to drive up.  We’re trying to hold regular Fri-Sat summertime drop in rates to $3.00/visitor.   Dress warmly (can easily get below freezing at the 6500 foot elevation!) and bring a small flashlight covered with red cellophane or a brown paper bag (to protect everyone's night vision).  We furnish star charts.  You can stay up with us all night, weather permitting.  Check the web site for Quick Cam views of the weather during daylight before you come up.  There is a Forest Service campground just across the parking lot from the Observatory, first come, first served, no reservations, no fees.  Primitive campground, you need to bring water.  
Some schools have made arrangements with teachers at local
schools to use their gym to camp out in.
Try to pick a non-Full Moon night (moon is very bright and washes out fainter objects).
For further details, see the How to Visit PMO link and/or call 541-382-8331.
10” automated Meade Telescope is available if there is a staff operator available to set up and manage the instrument.

15" Telescope is out of service due to need of motor replacement.
24" Telescope continues as our workhorse for visual and for wide field imaging use, the PIGGY camera is available for archival or live imaging.
32" Telescope continues to be available for limited collection of research data with the COWCAM, including images filtered with B, V, or R filters.  Contact Rick with your initial proposal, I'll put you in touch with Professor Bothun to work out the details.
Solar Viewing: We now have an H-alpha solar filter for use on our portable 8" telescope, that allows visitors during daytime to view the huge prominences blasted out by the Sun.  Normally we have this telescope set up outside the 24" dome on Saturday afternoons,
2-5 PM during the regular Visitors' Season.