About Dr. Valerie Rapson
Dr. Valerie Rapson recently obtained her Ph.D. in Astrophysical Sciences and Technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and is now working as the Outreach Astronomer at the Dudley Observatory at miSci. Throughout her graduate career, Valerie spent much of her free time educating the general public about astronomy. She taught science summer camps for kids, presented star shows at the Strasenburgh Planetarium, and developed an astronomy lifelong learning program for senior citizens. Her passion for teaching was recognized when she became a national Astronomy Ambassador in 2014, and subsequently had her work with senior citizens published in Astronomy Magazine in October 2015. Valerie is really excited to be spearheading the astronomy education programs at the Dudley Observatory at miSci. She plans to reach out to all members of the public, both young and young-at-heart, and teach them the wonders of our Universe.
STEM Education for the Young to Young-at-heart
Most science outreach and education, especially in the field of astronomy, is geared towards children. The goal is to grow a more scientifically literate future filled with educated people ready to take on jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). But what about today’s adults who are attempting to understand and cope with an ever changing technological world? What about today’s senior citizens who lived through the space race and are curious about the latest big discoveries in a field where robotic instruments have mostly taken the place of human travelers? With an aging population, and a steady decrease in government funding of the sciences, adult STEM education is becoming more and more important. We need to take the time to teach adults so that they understand the importance of scientific research and can enjoy the amazing results that come from this research. Astronomy is an excellent gateway into outreach programs for adults, as it is a widely enjoyed field where the basics can be explored in your own backyard. This lifelong learning can then continue into all fields of science. Strong STEM outreach programs for adults will not only provide an enjoyable experience for people of all ages, but it will also help prepare a world in which our children’s STEM education is highly valued, and jobs are prevalent.