The Stars Between Us
Sharing the night sky with middle school students
Aspen Jens grew up in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin and has gone outside for most of her life. She grew up at nature centers and parks. One of her favorite activities was going on night hikes and looking at the stars. She noticed many kids in her community did not have the same opportunity that she did growing up. She wanted to bring the wonder of the night sky to everyone. To do this she thought of a plan to make a club for middle schoolers 5th-6th grade. When this plan fell through she partnered with the local state park and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to bring astronomy activities to their yearly night hike.
Implementation of Project
When Aspen first came up with the idea to bring astronomy to middle schoolers in her community she planned an after school club. She was going to have 3 meetings with different activities for the kids. When the time for the first meeting approached, there was still no one signed up. Aspen then switched gears and looked for other places she could bring her astronomy. Her mom then brought up the idea of the state park. Aspen reached out and they were overjoyed to host her. She set up a table and had marshmallow constellations and night sky watching apps. She was going to have a friend bring telescopes and do star gazing on the beach, but as with all astronomy events, it was cloudy. She had a lot of families come and do the activities.
“It was great to see all different ages enjoying my activities!” – Aspen Jens
Results of Project
Aspen’s project was a success. She had people of all ages come and enjoy the activities. About 20 families came to visit her table. The park rangers were very grateful she could come and loved what it added to the event. They mentioned asking her back the next time they do a night hike. Overall the project turned out great considering she had to change her plans suddenly.
“I loved being able to get my project out to so many different people at the night hike.” – Aspen Jens
Aspen is planning on continuing to host astronomy tables at different events. She also might re-try her astronomy club in her senior year. Once she graduates high school in the summer of 2024 she hopes someone might carry on her goal.