Monday, September 13, 2010

Bilingual Astronomy Book Needs Our Votes


Finding bilingual resources for homeschooling families continues to be a challenge. So of course, I am just so happy when I stumble upon new products or sites that help us on our educational journey. Part of teaching our children is finding ways to make them enjoy the learning process or to spark their interest and imaginations so that they are eager to learn more.

Last week I happened upon this article announcing a new bilingual art book on astronomy for children. Snapshots of the Universe/Instantáneas del universo was created last year by Dark Skies, Bright Kids (DSBK), a program run by volunteer students at the University of Virginia. Their goal is to enhance science education for elementary kids, especially in rural southern Albemarle County elementary schools.

Many of the children attending these rural schools are of Latino heritage, so Kelsey Johnson, the astronomer in charge of the program, and her volunteers have been actively reaching out to these students whose first language is Spanish. In an effort to engage a particularly shy third-grader, Johnson asked one of her team members, Laura Jackson, for help.

Now it so happens that Laura just graduated from the university with a Spanish degree and a minor in astronomy. She also dabbles in art. Excited about the opportunity, Laura began creating paintings of objects found in the universe - el sol/the sun, la luna/the moon, el cohete/the rocket, la Tierra/the Earth - and she labeled them in both English and Spanish. 

The pictures were such a hit with the teachers and (more importantly) with the students, that DSBK decided to develop the idea even further and create a book using the many talents contributed by other university students.  The text was expanded to give more detail, and native speakers from Chile, Mexico, and Spain reviewed it for accuracy.

DSBK is now looking to upload the book to their website by the end of the year and make it available as a free digital download for bilingual families all over the world.

But their most pressing goal is to print up 8,000 copies of Snapshots of the Universe/Instantáneas del universo in order to place them in third grade classrooms throughout Virginia, as well as in every one of the state’s public elementary school libraries.

To do this, DSBK has applied for a $25,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh educational grant program. Because Pepsi allows the public to vote for the applicants, DSBK really needs every vote it can get.

We can help! Everyday between now and the end of September, you can vote for DSBK’s bilingual book project. If you’d like to learn more about the Dark Skies, Bright Kids program, visit their website.

It is SO IMPORTANT for us to support projects like these which serve to further our children's education. Not only does it benefit us, since they are working to make the digital version available to us for free, but it also helps so many children, Latino and non-Latino, to get an opportunity to find the beauty and excitement in learning about science.

I hope you will join me in voting for this most deserving project.



Con mucho cariño...

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