AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 118 Reaching Out: EPO
Poster, Thursday, January 8, 2004, 9:20am-4:00pm, Grand Hall

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[118.11] AstroFest: A Case Study of an Astronomy Outreach Program at Penn State University

C. Palma, J. C. Charlton (Penn State)

The Pennsylvania State University Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics has developed a multi-faceted approach to outreach in astronomy. Our programs include In-Service Workshops in Astronomy for middle-school and high-school science teachers, planetarium shows for local elementary school classes, and a series of sponsored, popular level talks, for example. One of our most popular outreach events is called ``AstroFest"; this is a four night festival of astronomy that we hold concurrently with the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts (``ArtsFest"). The AstroFest program was devised by undergraduate students during the summer of 1999, and we continue to hold it annually. Each night of the event, we offer talks at a popular level on subjects such as black holes, life on Mars, and the world's largest telescopes. Throughout the night we also offer planetarium shows, a chance to use our rooftop telescopes, a question & answer table with prizes, kids' activities that include launching bubble rockets, and a number of other demonstrations and tours. In this poster, I present the full complement of astronomy outreach programs offered by Penn State, and I focus in particular on AstroFest as a case study that highlights the challenges we face and the positive outcomes we have realized.

Funding for our outreach program has come from several sources, including NASA E/PO supplement grants, the STScI IDEAS program, The Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium, and the Pennsylvania State University Eberly College of Science.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.