Philly #popscope is the newest incarnation of #popscope, a public astronomy movement launched in Canada’s national capital, Ottawa, last year with support from the Awesome Ottawa Foundation. #Popscope aims to bring astronomy to urban residents and bring communities together by hosting free, “pop-up” astronomy sessions. Having achieved success in Ottawa last year by hosting dozen events that engaged diverse populations across the city, we hope to expand this movement to Philadelphia. Philadelphia #popscope would build on the Ottawa model, but with a stronger emphasis on science education for Philadelphia public high school students. Severe funding cuts have hurt enrichment and extra-curricular programs at Philadelphia public schools. Low-income students in the United States also receive limited science education compared to their more affluent peers. Four monthly #popscope events are planned for 2015, beginning beginning in March. Through Twitter and Facebook, we will announce the location and date of each public #popscope session. The majority of pop-up astronomy events will be held during the night; however, to permit families and children to participate, we will also host day-time events using a solar filter. Our monthly #popscope events be held in a variety of locations across the city so that that all Philadelphians are given an opportunity to come together and learn about astronomy. The second, complementary part of Philly #popscope is an astronomy education partnership between faculty and students of Penn Astronomy department and Sayre High School in West Philadelphia. We will organize visits from astronomy faculty and students to meet with teachers and their students. The visits may inspire students to engage in amateur astronomy and consider academic and career options in STEM fields. Around these visits, #popscope will donate astronomy education materials, and, as weather permits, will organize an after school day-time solar observation session.
Funded by Philadelphia, PA (January 2015)