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Galileo's Battle for the Heavens

Program Ideas and Tips

Galileo homepage

This tip sheet is intended to help you incorporate the NOVA/PBS special "Galileo's Battle for the Heavens" video into your event and program schedule and provide ideas for how you can work with partner organizations to interest your audiences in Galileo and other scientists.

See the General Tips section for information on planning events and programs and the Resources section for information on working with local partners.

Library Events and Programs

  • Invite an astronomer to deliver a lecture or slide show. Contact a local astronomy club, science center or planetarium, or college or university astronomy department for presenters.

  • Organize a topical book or panel discussion. Topics to consider include: historical astronomers—such as Nicolaus Copernicus, Claudius Ptolemy, and Johannes Kepler—and their discoveries; the history of the telescope; 16th and 17th century Italy and society; the role of women during the Renaissance; the Catholic Church during Galileo's time, including the role of convents in the society, the Inquisition, and religious persecution. Contact local colleges, universities, libraries, or bookstores for guest speakers.

  • Organize a young adult reading or video viewing and discussion program. Choose a topic teenagers will relate to and organize teens to discuss their ideas, opinions, and reactions to what they have read or watched.

  • Sponsor a get-together between school and adult astronomy clubs. Provide attendees with copies of the Bibliography and Reproducible Handout.

  • Hold a contest:

    • to guess the number of objects in a jar. You can create an astronomy theme by using jacks to represent stars, or marbles or gum balls to represent planets.

    • to create art or essays. Have children and young adults answer the question: "Where does science happen in your house?" (or somewhere else in their environment) with a drawing or essay. Work with a local science teacher to develop contest guidelines and judging criteria. Assemble the responses to display in the school or public library.

    • to answer a set of science questions. Have children and young adults use library resources to answer a set of child-related science questions. Work with a local science teacher or online science resources to evaluate the responses.

  • Develop ways to encourage use of library resources:

    • with an information treasure hunt. Have patrons find a series of facts using various library resources.

    • with a Galileo trivia or word game. Or produce a fact sheet about Galileo (without identifying him) that patrons use to figure out who is being described.

    • with a play or skit performance. Have teens choose an event in Galileo's life to research and write about for a library show or class presentation.

    • with guided tours for parents/guardians. Then encourage parents/guardians to help their children find resources and materials.

  • Produce a science-related puppet or theatrical show. Identify and work with puppeteers or drama organizations to create a science-related show.

  • Show science videos. View "Galileo's Battle for the Heavens" or other science program and have a facilitator lead a related discussion after watching.

  • Conduct a science activity session. Choose one or more activities from the Reproducible Handout. Create and distribute a bibliography that lists additional activity resources.

  • Plan a community fair. Choose a focus, invite scientific groups, and set up booths offering topical information, crafts and activities, and theme-based food items.

Plan events off-site

Consider a change in venue when planning your Galileo events. You could hold a "star party," by working with a representative from a local amateur astronomy club or a college or university astronomy department to host a night sky program. Or you could conduct a book discussion with middle or high school students, senior center members, or homeschool groups. Or think about doing science activities at schools or other youth venues. Use the Reproducible Handout for activity ideas.

Library Display Ideas

  • School Science Fair projects. Many school systems have a science curriculum coordinator who could refer you to science teachers working with students doing science fair projects. Also contact local homeschool groups regarding science project development.

  • Resources to use with school science projects. If local science fairs have not yet been held, create a display with resources students might use to conduct school science projects or to plan and create a project for an upcoming science fair or science center exhibit.

  • The planetary system. Use a black cloth or paper background and glow-in-the-dark planets and stars to create the solar system.

  • Modern telescopes. Contact local hobby shops, hobbyists, or science centers to borrow telescopes for display. Include diagrams of antique telescopes for contrast.

  • Books and videos related to Galileo. See Bibliography for suggestions.

  • Science activities. Choose an activity from the Reproducible Handout to showcase. Have the handout available for distribution.

General Tips

  • Consider the following audiences and venues for distributing the Bibliography and/or the Reproducible Handout of activities: parents, middle school and high school science and social studies teachers, school librarians/media specialists, homeschoolers, astronomy and physics clubs, museums and science centers, science camps, teen clubs, Boys and Girls Clubs, juvenile justice centers, community centers, other library branches, book clubs, and library events.

  • Look for experts and information through the Web or other national organizations if none exist in your community.

  • Think about offering incentives for contests and other events. Some incentives might be tickets to the local planetarium or science center; books or videos on Galileo or related topics; astronomy toys; or a star-viewing session with a local expert. Contact local retailers—such as hobby shops, toy stores, and bookstores—for possible donations.

  • Send event information to media outlets. Provide newspapers, science center and club newsletters, radio, and other media outlets with an extended description of the event as well as an abbreviated listing of event particulars for calendar sections and radio announcements. Remember to supply the information to appropriate Web outlets, including local community, city informational, and school Web sites. Contact the educational outreach person at your local PBS affiliate to help plan and promote your events.

  • Create posters and iers announcing your event. Distribute them at appropriate venues.

  • Offer materials on your library Web site. Link to online downloadable versions of the Bibliography and Reproducible Handout included in this kit. Augment the resources with additional information your audiences might find useful.

  • Contact and share information with other libraries. Extend the reach of your work and help other librarians by providing information on what you have done with your projects.


Astronomy Clubs—for partners, experts, and target audiences

Amateur Astronomy Clubs and Organizations
Provides links to astronomy clubs by state.

Member Societies of the Astronomical League
Gives contact information by state for member clubs of the league, the world's largest federation of amateur astronomers. The league encourages an interest in astronomy through educational and observational programs for amateur astronomers.

Colleges and Universities—for experts

Community Colleges—for experts

American Association of Community Colleges: Community College Finder
Furnishes state-by-state listings of local area community colleges (choose CC Finder button). Contact information is supplied, as well as links to college home pages; most pages include academic department and faculty directory contact listings.

Homeschools—for locating local homeschool groups

Regional and Worldwide Homeschooling
Provides information on such topics as homeschooling associations, events, resources, and support groups for states in six U.S. regions.

K-12 Schools—for locating local K-12 schools

Yahoo! Directory: K-12 Schools
Provides listing of elementary, middle, and high schools with links to each school's home page. Regional listings provide state breakdowns by cities or counties. Direct links to school sites are provided; many sites have staff listings. Not all schools are listed.

K-12 School Libraries—for locating local school librarians and media center specialists

School Libraries on the Web: School Library Pages in the United States
Furnishes listing of library Web pages maintained by K-12 school libraries/media centers. Links directly to library home pages. Not all school libraries are listed.

National Education Association (NEA)—for partnerships

NEA State Affiliates Online
Find contacts for helping to promote programs, bring together audiences, and provide other partnership opportunities.

Online Science Experts

Allexperts Astronomy
Provides nearly 20 experts to answer questions in various aspects of astronomy. Each expert is profiled and rated by site visitors who have sent in questions.

Allexperts Physics
Lists more than 10 experts in physics, including physics teachers, who will answer questions sent in. Each expert is profiled and rated by site visitors.

Community Learning Network: Ask an Expert Sources
Lists experts in K12 curricular-related topics, including astronomy and physics.

The Virtual Reference Desk: AskA+ Locator: Science
Provides more than 20 experts in astronomy and physics.

PBS Stations—for partnerships

Find Your Local PBS Station
Type in your zip code or choose your state to find a listing of local stations and links to contact information for each.

Physics Clubs—for partnerships, experts, and target audiences

American Institute of Physics: Society of Physics Students (SPS)
Links to regional listings of contacts (in PDF format) for chapters. SPS is the professional society for physics students and their mentors.

Planetaria or Observatories—for partnerships and experts

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific: Planetaria
Furnishes links to planetarium and observatory home pages by state.

Puppeteers—for partnerships

Puppeteers of America
Includes contact information for puppetry guilds throughout the United States.

Science Centers—for partnerships and experts

The Virtual Library: Museums in the USA: Science
Lists more than 115 U.S. museums and science centers and provides direct links to museum home pages.

Sky Charts—for night viewing programs or to use as handouts

Your Sky
Allows users to produce sky maps for any time and date, viewpoint, and observing location.

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"Galileo's Battle for the Heavens" is a production by Green Umbrella, Ltd., for WGBH/Boston in association with Channel 4.

Major funding for "Galileo's Battle for the Heavens" provided by the National Science Foundation.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Major funding for NOVA is provided by the Park Foundation, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, and Sprint. Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers.

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