Reaching for the stars

TUPPER LAKE – The Adirondack Public Observatory is working with the local Brownie troop to develop a new astronomy badge.

APO Education Committee members Gordie Duval and Marc Staves have been working with the local Girl Scout Community Chair Dori Gilman and Tupper Lake Brownie Troop 4123 leaders Jill Bujold, Danielle Cuttaia and Monique Callaghan to create a set of program requirements so Brownies can earn a new astronomy patch.

The Brownie leaders have named the program “Reach for the Stars.”

The group of about 12 girls are in the midst of a four-week immersion in stars, planets and telescopes.

Duval, who is chair of the APO’s Education Committee, told the Enterprise this morning that the girls have so far participated in sessions called “All About Telescopes,” in which they learned the different parts of a telescope and how to use it, and “The Planets,” in which they cut out scaled images of each of the planets to teach them about the relative size and distance of each.

Next week, the girls will delve into “Star Charts and Constellations,” learning how to read star charts and identifying a few constellations.

For the first three sessions, the Brownies are meeting at the APO’s Park Street office. For the last session, planned for March 6, APO members hope to bring the girls to the APO’s new Roll-Off Roof Observatory – weather permitting – so they can use what they’ve learned about telescopes and star charts to do some actual stargazing.

“So the last session is kind of a culmination of all the things we’ve learned in the classroom,” Duval said.

Each of the activities is designed to teach the girls a piece of knowledge they are required to know to receive the astronomy badge.

Duval, Staves, Ted Merrihew and APO President Keith Wells have been helping Brownie leaders with activities at various times throughout the sessions.

“It’s worked out really, really well,” Duval said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Duval said it’s not the first time the APO has worked with Girl and Boy Scout-affiliated groups. APO members have done programs with Cub Scouts from Camp Bedord and Girl Scout leaders at their Lake Clear camp.

“We just try to get out and do as much as we can as far as spreading a little science around,” Duval said.

The APO expects that this program will be ongoing, assisting future Brownies and Girl Scouts with attaining a patch in astronomy.

Duval said the APO hopes to encourage kids to take an interest in science and astronomy and consider working in related fields.

“It’s always fun to work with kids,” Duval said. “Any time you can inspire a child, it’s a fantastic thing.”

Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or