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Local Boys & Girls Club to Benefit from American Astronomical Society & National Science Foundation Grant

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Partnership with APSU and NASA to promote Solar Eclipse viewing

The Boys and Girls Club of Hopkinsville-Christian County was recently recognized as one of 31 beneficiaries of the Julena Steinheider Duncombe mini-grants from the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Solar Eclipse Task Force, with funding provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

With the goal to engage and inspire youth at the Boys & Girls Club of Hopkinsville-Christian County, Austin Peay State University (APSU) in conjunction with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) submitted the grant to promote viewing of the August 21st Solar Eclipse.

Dr. Allyn Smith, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Austin Peay State University led the proposal submission process from an academic standpoint, with the aim of providing inspiration and increased STEM opportunities as well as an understanding of the physics and geometry of orbits that allow eclipses to happen.

“We are targeting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and will engage them in the Citizen CATE project” said Smith. “We will conduct training classes with them on the equipment, educate them on eclipses and the science value of the eclipses, and develop an astronomy outreach effort with them.”

The goal of the Citizen CATE project is to make a continuous 90 minute movie of the solar corona during the 2017 total solar eclipse. The instrument package for this nation-wide project consists of a telescope, mount, camera, controller, and laptop computer to be used during the eclipse with Boys and Girls Club members.

“One of the core areas of focus for the Boys & Girls Club is education, and we are applying special focus to S.T.E.A.M. areas in the coming years,” said Terrence Davis, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Hopkinsville-Christian County.  “We are in the process of building a state of the art teen center that will have a designated science and technology area and would love this opportunity as a way to tie-in career options in the STEAM paths.”

In addition to the Citizen CATE project, Smith’s proposal included modified kinesthetic astronomy, Eclipse viewer building workshops, and sunspot tracking.  APSU will schedule solar-viewing activities at the B&GC monthly leading up to the Solar Eclipse, and will also be distributing six pairs of Eclipse viewing glasses to each member of the B&GC to help spread eye safety awareness.

The AAS mini-grants program is named for Julena Steinheider Duncombe (1911-2003), an astronomer and educator who started the country’s first school-lunch program for underprivileged children.

For additional information regarding the 2017 Solar Eclipse, contact Brooke Jung, Solar Eclipse Marketing & Events Consultant at 270-887-4290 or brooke.jung@hopkinsvilleky.us