My Experience at The Adler Planetarium

On July 7th, 2015, I arrived at the planetarium at 12:10 pm to make sure that I was not late for my first day as a Citizen Science Ambassador at the Adler Planetarium.  I was excited to learn more about astronomy, to code in python, and to be able to explore the Adler Planetarium. This experience was most exciting for me because I did not know a lot about astronomy, I’d wanted to learn how to code in the past, and because I had never been to the Adler Planetarium before.

During the early months of 2015, when I was starting to make my plans for the summer, I made a list of every summer program that I had attended in the past 5 years. I did this to help myself find something different and new that I had never done before. Doing so helped me realize that I had covered most basic science topics, except for astronomy, so I wanted to find a program that involved astronomy. Here at the Adler I learned about some of the basics of astronomy like bubbles, and the significance/importance of artifacts such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), and the Hubble Space Telescope. Bubbles are areas around stars that have shock waves that blow bubbles due to their brightness. These bubbles are usually seen in infrared light. In a bubble the dark inside is where the shock used to be and the pink ring is where the shock is. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey is a telescope based in Sunspot, New Mexico. This telescope provided all of the information for the Galaxy Zoo project. The Hubble Space Telescope is a telescope that was launched into low earth orbit in 1990 that is used to take high-resolution pictures of earth.

When I first came to my Middle School, I was looking for a club that I could join. I wanted to do something new and different, so I joined the robotics club. In this program they introduced python coding and basic concepts such as if-else statements. As soon as I started to understand the coding, the program closed for mysterious reasons and I was unable to learn python. This was one of the reasons why I came to the Citizen Science Ambassadors program, because I started learning python and wanted to continue. The reason why I wanted to learn python and coding in general, was because I knew that coding and computer programming were important skills needed, to be able to survive in today’s growing technological world.   Throughout my time at the Adler I learned about python syntax, strings and console output, conditionals and control flow, functions, lists and dictionaries, and lists and functions. Out of all of these components of python, my favorite was conditionals and control flow because I enjoyed making if, else statements and enjoyed the challenge of using them to make different codes. After this program I will continue to use codecademy and other coding programs to help myself become fluent in python.

Lastly, I wanted to come to the Citizen Science Ambassadors program because I had never been to the Adler Planetarium before. To make matters worse, my mom even had a yearly membership to the planetarium that we just never had the time to use. When I first came to the Adler I was surprised at the amount of information, artifacts, and hands-on activities available. The first thing that I saw was a woman presenting about the New-Horizons space probe on its final approach to Pluto! After this I saw the replica mars rover, a screen that showed information on all of the planets in our solar system, and the moon rover activity. I was really excited to see all of the exhibits.  I also saw the Cosmic Wonder movie, which was completely amazing! In the movie I learned about the Crab Nebula, which greatly interested me.  I was so interested in it, that I went home and researched it, and watched a documentary on Nebulas. I feel that coming to the Adler was an amazing experience and I think that I will continue to come back to the Adler after the CSA program. Overall, I really enjoyed being at the Adler Planetarium and feel that I have learned a lot.

Thus, I think that I have had an extremely productive summer, and have learned more than I could have learned from a normal school setting. I have learned about astronomy, how to code in python, and information at and about the Adler Planetarium. I am extremely grateful for After School Matters and the Adler Planetarium for providing me with this position. Upon completion of this program I plan on continuing my use of python and learning other coding languages. Overall I think that this was a great course and feel that I have learned a lot.

Keith

Keith C. is going into his freshman year at Whitney Young Magnet High School. As a citizen scientist he enjoyed learning how to code in python.

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