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Family ASTRO

Making Science Fun for the Whole Family!

Family ASTRO in action

What is Family ASTRO?

Family ASTRO is a program sponsored by Raritan Valley Community College and Somerset County 4-H. Our goal is to train educators, astronomers, youth group leaders, and anyone else who is interested, to help children and adults explore astronomy together. Family ASTRO is about making science fun for the whole family!

Our way of involving families is to invite them to evening or weekend Family events, where they will have fun doing astronomy activities together. At the events, families get to try some activity stations as well as a number of facilitated activities, and then receive a game to take home. Each event is led by a Family ASTRO Event Leader who is trained in how to organize Family ASTRO programs and do astronomy activities.

Evidence of the impact of school, family and community connections on student achievement has been documented by Ann T. Henderson and Karen L. Map in a publication by the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. Click here to view or download this study (1.2 MB).

How do I become a Family ASTRO Leader? 

We currently have no Family ASTRO Leader Trainings scheduled.  If you would like to inquire about Family ASTRO training, please contact Dave Allison at Raritan Valley Community College at 908-526-1200 x 8942 (email: dallison@raritanval.edu).


Descriptions of Each Family Astro Kit 

Night Sky Adventure  

Night Sky Adventures helps families get to know the bright stars and constellations of each season. Families get to build their own star finder, put their family heroes in the sky, and do a celestial treasure hunt.

Race to the Planets
Race to the Planets encourages the exploration of many intriguing worlds in our solar system. Families get to play a newly developed planets game (with a secret decoder), build their own planetary flags, and figure what they would weigh on Jupiter or Pluto.

Moon Mission
Moon Mission explores our closest neighbor, the Moon, the only celestial body human have actually set foot on. Families play a collaborative game where they work and plan together to bring a number of damaged instruments back to their Moon Base; they have only two weeks (one day on the Moon) to do this. Families also share moon stories, learn why the moon has phases, and find out how high they can jump on the Moon.

Cosmic Decoders
Cosmic Decoders is designed to be done in two parts.
In the first part, families learn how to sort beautiful pictures of various kinds of cosmic objects. They construct “Cosmic Visors” to compare what their world and the universe look like in different colors, and create and display “secret messages” using a color code.

In the second part, families learn about messages scientists are sending to and trying to receive from possible civilizations among the stars. They work together to decode an interesting cosmic message and then have fun constructing their own family message to send into space. Since aliens are unlikely to speak English (or any other human language), families must use some kind of picture code to make their messages intelligible.

Every family also takes home a “Cosmic Decoders” card set. The set of 72 beautiful color cards (with images of galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae) lets families play at least four different games that teach astronomy and encourage both competitive and cooperative play.

Family ASTRO is a program of Raritan Valley Community College and Somerset County 4-H.
It is developed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and funded by the National Science Foundation.

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