‘Stellar Dreams’ project giving 100 telescopes to 100 families (exclusive)

A new program illuminates stargazing and inspires science educators.

That program, called Stellar Dreams, is run by the non-profit organization The Science Haven. It will provide 100 telescopes, with the aim of encouraging interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in underrepresented and disadvantaged families.

Founded by molecular biologist Raven Baxter, The Science Haven supports a vision to create an inclusive arena for all kinds of scientific dialogue and impactful connections between diverse communities. Through its growing platform of events, educational programs, web series, workshops and public discussions, The Science Haven is committed to promoting the accessibility of science and building inclusive environments where perspectives, ideas and opinions can be expressed.

The nonprofit’s latest focus is Stellar Dreams, a curiosity-fueling project that provides 100 beginner-friendly Celestron telescopes to 100 disadvantaged 5-12 grade students and their families across America, beginning with a recent rollout in Buffalo, New York. In addition to donating telescopes, Stellar Dreams offers recipients the opportunity to become members of a junior astronomer training program, teaching them how to use their new astronomical tools and providing information about citizen science research in the field of astronomy.

Related: Best telescopes 2024: For stargazing galaxies, constellations and more

two people standing in a museum atrium

two people standing in a museum atrium

Led by executive director Baxter and Gamble, a NASA astrophysicist, Stellar Dreams has captured the world’s attention for its innovative outreach effort. Both were recently selected for the Astronaut Rock Star Award by Uniphi Good on National Astronaut Day for being pillars of support and leading voices in space exploration and STEM/STEAM education. (The “A” in STEAM stands for “art.”)

“The genesis of the Stellar Dreams Program was a small seed that grew and grew,” Baxter told Space.com. “To grow from a simple idea last July to a successful, award-winning project within six to nine months is a huge achievement. I am honored and so grateful for the support we have managed to inspire behind Stellar Dreams. .

“STEM programs do a good job, but I see a lot of repetition and duplication. As someone who has participated as a facilitator or participant or evaluator, I believe that STEM programs deserve more innovation. More challenges, better and innovative opportunities are needed from today’s kids. people who were driving them I thought about my own childhood and what things I was exposed to that fostered an interest in STEM and remembered my grandparents’ telescope in their sunroom, and I would the telescope out during the day was trying to look at things but he couldn’t since the house was wooded and I couldn’t look over the trees.

“So I used it inside trying to look at things very closely, and that’s how I got interested in molecules. When I got my Ph.D in science education, I learned about all the literature that supports telescopes, and that early access to tools and resources actually has a measurable impact on whether or not someone pursues a STEM career.”

A man stands behind a table handing out swag to the kidsA man stands behind a table handing out swag to the kids

A man stands behind a table handing out swag to the kids

Gamble is the Stellar Dreams program director. He came on board as an active stakeholder, and felt that this project was aligned with his own career initiatives.

“Raven is very good at setting up a Bat Signal,” he told Space.com. “She was telling me this idea and I thought it was amazing. Stellar Dreams was very close to home for me. Being a black astrophysicist myself, I know the numbers. I was one of those kids .Now I can put my expertise to good use.I know they need these types of telescopes and want to be able to look at these things in the night sky and have access to the local astronomy community. .

“I put some of my artistic talents to use and designed little junior astronomy cards and posters for them through our sponsors and partnerships, so they have tangible things, and I was able to bring in NASA swag and stickers. They got a big grab bag of Along with the telescopes.

This ambitious project met its goal of acquiring 100 telescopes, but they are still raising money for program costs after starting it with 25 Buffalo students.

“We are looking to continue this program in other cities in the DC area and in North Carolina,” Baxter said. “I’m a hometown hero, and it felt great to give back to the community that invested so much in me. The faces of those kids were so bright and happy, and their families were so involved with our program good.. I’m getting updates from the families, and they appreciate the opportunity.”

a woman in a black dress being interviewed in front of a wall with colored circlesa woman in a black dress being interviewed in front of a wall with colored circles

a woman in a black dress being interviewed in front of a wall with colored circles


— NASA and ESA experts highlight diversity and inclusion in space

— The space has a diversity problem — and big institutions like universities can do something about it

— Citizen scientists discover an amazing exoplanet, name it a Harry Potter character

Stellar Dreams recipients are awarded a solid mid-range Celestron Travel Scope 80 telescope. The scope also offers a phone mount that allows students to take pictures on their smartphones. The comprehensive kit even comes with a starter app and a small laser finder tool.

“For some of these kids, they’ve never touched a telescope before,” Gamble said. “They didn’t know that there were lenses and mirrors inside one. So they got to put together their own telescopes and then go out and use it alongside bigger telescopes that other people brought in, and questions to put the subject matter experts like myself about what they are seeing. It was a full circle moment for me, growing up to be one of the kids and now being able to give them a telescope get a NASA agency medal, one of the best, so I’ll be forever grateful, too.”

For more information on the Stellar Dreams Project, partnership opportunities, and how to donate to this worthy cause, visit them at their online headquarters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *