Astronomy for kids

Why Astronomy Isn’t Taught In Schools And What Can We Do About It?

Talking in schools, meeting children, and answering their questions have been absolutely enriching experiences for me. In a world full of negativity, politics, madmen, and 5G conspiracies, talking to a child about science can do so much good to anyone. It gives you a sense of excitement and optimism about the future. It reminds you that there could be an amazing future in front of us if we would want bad enough to make use of it.

You may probably tell me that the problems in the world right now won’t be solved by just talking to a kid. The truth is, most of the problems in the world could be solved if we work hard enough in educating those children. I strongly believe in the idea that any kid can do amazing things if encouraged in the right direction. I’ve seen that. Not once. 

Why Astronomy Isn't Taught In Schools And What Can We Do About It? 2

Astronomy In Schools

Not necessarily. Physics and general science training would be a lot more useful. Astronomy is a specific branch of physics, so guiding students directly to astronomy could make more bad than good because there is the risk of learning the physics concepts superficially, which would be no good. However, this affirmation should be rectified. 

I started studying astronomy alone. I began with Hawking’s books, going for Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson after that. And many more followed. For a few years, that is where I got most of my knowledge from. Astronomy was mostly a field I was seeing online, and far out of sight. I couldn’t talk to people about my new passion, and when I brought up the subject to my physics teacher back then, he told me quickly that he’ll give me something to read.

That was all. I also tried reaching out to the city’s astronomical observatory, but the phone number given on the website was most probably wrong and nobody returned my emails. 

Read all the articles of the Basics of Astrophysics series here

Only after that, when I entered a new school, I found a teacher who helped me a lot and gave me the basics of astronomy. A year later I was founding my own organization, and setting up astronomy and astrophysics after-school classes. I met a few people working for another organization in Romania, and we now often team up for public events. I also got to know the people of the observatory now, and we organize events there too from time to time. 

I met a lot of gifted children and teenagers. Some of them have decided to go for a career in astronomy, and some have said that the classes we organized were very important to them. 

I don’t think that astronomy should be included in the school curriculum, but I do believe that it should be included as an after-school class, or as an optional one. A lot of children need that, and there is a great number of activities that can introduce kids and teenagers to the field. Also, activities simulating scientific research are very much needed. 

Astronomy in schools
Image: VectorStock

Without physics, there is not much that can be taught in astronomy. I’ll give you a simple example. Suppose we have to teach the solar system to school kids. We can tell them about the planets, their features, and how some of them were discovered. These are just the facts that we are telling.

But to understand the working of the solar system in a proper way, that is, to understand how the planets move around the Sun or how the solar system formed, we need to teach them Newton’s theory of gravity and then the Kepler’s laws. Not to mention the differential calculus involved. So, if we have to teach astronomy properly, we need to first focus on physics.

To spark the interest of a student in this subject, observational astronomy is a better way. Schools must organize evening sessions in which they arrange for a telescope and let the kids gaze the night sky. Such events make the students curious and this is something the will understand and relish.

One Year of Writing

These days I’m celebrating 1 year since I started writing for The Secrets of the Universe. What an adventure it was! Maybe you don’t remember my first article, but I remember it vividly, “How science shaped humanity and what is the ultimate goal of it”. I was so excited. I never believed that so many of you would read my articles, and I’m more than happy that some of you enjoyed them too.

I’ve written articles since then on the movie Interstellar, the first photograph of Vega, citizen science, about catalogs of stars, the new space age, or the discovery of the helium spectral line. This would never have happened if Rishabh Nakra wouldn’t have been so kind to me since the beginning. He endured so many late articles (including this one), and I’m thinking what would happen if I’d owe him 1$ for each one. 

Also read:

“Second, what if it’s not all about applications in our life? What if it’s something else, something bigger? Science tells us who we are. By pursuing science, we embark on the quest of discovering our story. Of understanding why we are here, why we exist at all, or where we are going to be. It is a quest of discovering the world and understanding the Universe itself. The greatest story ever told. Our story. And that makes science the most rewarding and beautiful adventure we can embark on.” – from How science shaped humanity, my first article.

Also watch: The Making of Elon Musk

I love interacting with all of you, and The Secrets of the Universe has done so much for me in that direction, helping me get to you. And as a 1-year gift, I have one wish, from all of you reading this article: if you’re a kid, or teenager interested in astronomy or astrophysics, do something about it. You can totally have a career in the field, no doubt about that. Ask around, see what you can do, start studying. Join a course, ask your teachers about it, and don’t, don’t ever give up on this. Write to me about your progress if you want.

If you’re an adult, get your passion to the next level. Join, or make a group of passionate and interested people, and go out together for observation nights. I’m almost sure that you can find people like you in every city, it’s just that you didn’t look hard enough. If you don’t succeed, write to me, and I’ll try to give you some advice. Finally, if you’re a parent, encourage your kids to explore all fields of science, and engage them in scientific conversations and activities.

One more thing

Lately, I started receiving some messages and ideas from you. There’s nothing I love more in this job of writing than the interaction with my readers. I strongly encourage you to communicate your opinions to me, ask for advice, or just tell me about your progress. You can find me through Facebook mostly, but I’ve answered emails too, and Instagram. Keep lookin’ up!

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15 thoughts on “Why Astronomy Isn’t Taught In Schools And What Can We Do About It?”

  1. Musarat Tauseef

    Enjoyed reading your article, am intrigued by the Universe! Unfortunately did not study science or physics. Am a teacher and would love to introduce you to my students IA

    1. Bogdan Teodorescu

      Hello, I’m so glad to hear that. If you want to give me more details, contact me directly through my email. I could even join you on a Zoom or Skype session with your students for a short talk sometime

  2. I read your whole article and one thing I certainly tell you that by reading your article I can relate my self with this because in indian education system in science we don’t found astronomy as only 1 chapter in 11-12th Science.
    In India when kids are in primary they have very curiosity about Spce and when they question about anything out of syllabus their question ignored by telling that if you will select science in 11-12th then you will go through all this and when they select science as major subject they are forced by teachers and parents to do engineering so they can earn well and make their life stable and that’s where their interest fall in science.I am telling this because I also forced by my teacher and relative to do engineering.This subject it’s self very interesting so it should be use as tool to hook kids to the subject like physics.
    I am also student of science. I am pursuing my master degree in physics from India.I personally feels that if India has to revolutionize its education system then they have to start from primary education………
    You have chosen a very nice topic of the article and I extremely liked it .Keep writing…

    1. I want to know that, in which class you started to study astronomy?
      And when should we starts, if we wnt to make our Currier in astronomy.
      I will thankful to you if you Reply ❤❤❤❤

      1. Bogdan Teodorescu

        Raj, I started studying when I was 13-14. I got into the ‘harder’ and more technical details when I was around 15, starting high school. There still are fields that are far from my reach, but I’m taking it step by step and working through the maths slowly 🙂

    2. Bogdan Teodorescu

      I am very happy that you are interested Akshay. Feel free to talk to me whenever you want, and keep me in touch with your progress. And how knows, I am open to interesting collaborations, if you get some ideas 🙂

  3. It’s really wonderful to read your article sir, the way you exaplin it and how we relate it totally amazing.

    1. Bogdan Teodorescu

      So happy to see my readers appreciate what I write 🙂 I love that some of you relate to my experiences. Keep lookin’ up. Feel free to ask if you have any questions. I will try to answer them in time

  4. Hey so I read your article and I’m really moved cause this actually happens with me now I’m from india and here in schools they don’t take astronomy like I want to. Yes we have an extra activities and there we have astronomy club but because of less students our teacher was not interested in teaching anything whenever I look up and ask something they say oh! yes that’s an interesting question and instead of tell me anything about it he say may be you can search about it and let me also know. And then there was nothing else to ask or say and others students say why are you even wasting your time in that and that’s way more irritating.
    I am in grade 11 now and in our senior high we are not even allowed to take part in any activities .

    1. Bogdan Teodorescu

      Maybe you want to contact me on email. I will give you a reading list and some advice to get started in the field. The first and most important thing for you now is to join a technical university, most preferable physics. That, of course, if you are good with maths and physics. If not that good, you can still make amazing contributions from the position of amateur astronomer! It’s up to you, but if you want more advice and details you can just send me an email and I’ll do my best to answer you in the shortest time possible

  5. Sir, I can totally relate with your article. I am 12th class student in India. We have chapters about almost all topics except astronomy. If asked my physics teacher about something, he generally tries to avoid it and give a vague answer. Moreover, studying on my own is something which is not possible. Our course is very vast and we have cut throat competition.So many people have same percentile and if we don’t get 99.99 percentile, its all over.
    My teachers are decent but no one wants to talk about astronomy, its like a taboo to talk about it, no one gives accurate answers. Due to this fact, astronomy should be taught in school!!
    I love your articles, they are really knowledgeable and easy to understand. Hope you keep writing more!!

    1. Bogdan Teodorescu

      I sure will. I am happy that you enjoy my articles, that is what I am looking for. If you need advice regarding your astronomy progress, you can send me a short email and I’ll try to write back. Regarding the thing with the teachers, I definitely know what you’re talking about. Keep lookin’ up

  6. A little astronomy is included in the UK’s National Curriculum and the children are quite interested, though it was not part of my education in the 60s.

    1. Bogdan Teodorescu

      I have a good friend who founded the National Olympiad in the UK, giving the UK access to the international olympiad. The students there have great results!

  7. You are amazing. Great articles and thank you for inviting those with this passion to contact you as their mentor! Blessings.

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