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MITHRANDIR
2002-May-23, 04:53 AM
My Newphew will have his fourth birthday in June and I would like to get something to help him view the stars and get interested in Astronomy. I think that a pair of Binoculars would be better than a Telescope.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Which would you think to be more appropriate for a 4-year old and why?

Any helpful suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks for your thoughts in advance.

Sincerely,
Anthony
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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: MITHRANDIR on 2002-05-23 00:54 ]</font>

roidspop
2002-May-23, 05:21 AM
Four? That's kind of tough. Binoculars would be good except they require some coordination and a little physical strength to operate. Without these attributes, the image goes swooping about and it's just a meaningless blur. The child could be taught how to master binoculars, of course, but even if he is good, about the only interesting target would be the moon, and with steadiness always being a problem, the finer details will be missed.

A telescope is complex, but it gives much more back. The craters and mountains on the moon, the rings of Saturn, the banding on Jupiter, its satellites, and some nice star clusters become accessible. But it's hard to imagine a 4 or 5 year old learning how to operate one...so, lots of parental involvement is essential, which is excellent.

Access to the telescope's eyepiece is often a problem even for adults, so you might want to consider what design might let him use it without an adult holding him. There are some small reflectors that might be very good for this...the Astroscan comes to mind. Stability might be a problem, though. Some of the small Dobsonians could be good, and may be more stable. Of course, if you've got the resources, you might get a really good large aperture system with computerized drive and a miniature video cam on it, so you can sit indoors and stay comfy while seeing the celestial sites.

I do wish you success; my own daughter was given access to the sky from the time she was about that age...it never took, more's the pity. Too much competition from TV, video games and all that flashy junk. Good luck!

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: roidspop on 2002-05-23 01:22 ]</font>

Hale_Bopp
2002-May-23, 02:16 PM
Actually, a good pair of binoculars can show a lot. You probably will want to invest in a sturdy tripod and binocular mount for a child that age so they can hold them steady.

Rob

Wally
2002-May-23, 04:09 PM
Personally, I'd start him out with some good, basic-level intro. to Astronomy books. There's a few out there that I can remember getting as a younster. One in particular broke down the constellations by season, and had great pictures to show the skies for each. I'd probably wait a few more years before buying him any binoc's or a telescope (binoc's should come first, IMO). Wally

MITHRANDIR
2002-May-24, 04:11 PM
Thank you for your replys. I appreciate your comments.

Sincerely,
Anthony

beskeptical
2002-May-25, 12:56 AM
At the age of 3 or 4, kids are usually still involved with the nearby world. The 4th of July is coming up. I think if you observe kids of that age they will be much more interested in fireworks on the ground in front of them and much less interested in the big ones overhead that are in the distance.

Binocs are ok for looking at Earthbound objects, but I'd go for a good space picture book (science oriented and age appropriate of course), or, a cool toy like a motorized Mars rover.

Josh_imported
2002-May-25, 12:33 PM
Hard to say. I have vivid memories of my father holding me up to see the moon when I was about three and a half. Coincidentally, I also remember sitting in the car with my parents when I was about four, waiting for the Fourth of July fireworks display to start. As I was waiting, staring up at the sky through the windshield, I was transfixed by the bright, seemingly motionless lights above me. You never can be sure what will stick in a four-year-old's mind.

beskeptical
2002-May-26, 05:38 AM
On 2002-05-25 08:33, Josh wrote:
Hard to say. I have vivid memories of my father holding me up to see the moon when I was about three and a half. ... staring up at the sky through the windshield, I was transfixed by the bright, seemingly motionless lights above me. You never can be sure what will stick in a four-year-old's mind.


The Moon is big. Looking at it with binocs would be interesting to a young child, but for how long?

Are you sure you remember something that happened at the age of three? Was there a family foto of the event? True memories from that age are not well documented but memories from a foto can be believed by the brain to have been real memories. I remember being astonished at the age of 5 by the number of stars when we left city lights behind on a vacation. It stood out so much I can still remember the event.

What I suggest is not to try to remember what you might have wanted at that age, but to observe what kids that age today are most interested in. Big picture books stimulate the imagination and kids use toys to roll play and day dream. They aren't exactly at the scientific inquiry stage yet.

David Hall
2002-May-26, 06:04 AM
I think the best way to get a young child interested in something is simply to demonstrate your own interest in the subject. Show him what you like about it and why you like it in terms that he can understand. Also be honest and let him know what is and isn't possible. If he shows some interest in return, then encourage it and let him join in, but if he doesn't then just let it be. If you try to push too hard, you may have an opposite effect and drive him away from it.

A lack of real interest at such a young age is not a critical thing. And an intitial enthusiasm may not carry over into adulthood. But if you continually encourage curiosity and a love of exploring and learning new things, then the child will likely naturally swing towards such interests as he develops.

My advice is to hold off on the physical hardware until after you are sure he's interested and it won't go to waste. A better investment would be in books and videos of fun astronomy stuff, and an investment of your own time and energy to encourage such interests. Probably the best thing to do is simply to take him outside and show him what he can see with his eyes. Then when he's interested enough, pull out some binoculars or a small telescope and let him see what's there close-up. After he's hooked, you can pull out the big guns.

amstrad
2002-May-26, 04:47 PM
My nephews, who just turned 5, saw me using some binoculars in the kitchen to look at birds on the bird-feeder. After a minute or so of watching what I was doing, they wanted a turn. I was a little hesitant that they would actually be able to use them, but I let them try anyway. Amazingly they were using them correctly - focusing, holding them steady - and actually pointing out details that you could otherwise not see. Kids are amazing sometimes, don't underestimate their abilities to pick up new skills.

However, I think that at that age you have to spark their imagination. I suggest you increase their interest in astronomy and space exploration with toys that they can play with, such as these at SpaceToys (http://www.spacetoys.com). I know I loved playing with my Space Shuttle and Lunar lander when I was a kid.

Wally
2002-May-28, 04:47 PM
Are you sure you remember something that happened at the age of three? Was there a family foto of the event? True memories from that age are not well documented but memories from a foto can be believed by the brain to have been real memories. I remember being astonished at the age of 5 by the number of stars when we left city lights behind on a vacation. It stood out so much I can still remember the event.

What I suggest is not to try to remember what you might have wanted at that age, but to observe what kids that age today are most interested in. Big picture books stimulate the imagination and kids use toys to roll play and day dream. They aren't exactly at the scientific inquiry stage yet.


I dunno. My earliest memory comes when I was around 3 or so. Lived outside of detroit at the time (1968). The Detroit riots were in full swing. I have a memory of pounding on the sliding door of our townhouse, screaming and crying. Then, I look up and see a national guard huwy chopter flying over. Several years later (when I was in my teens), my Mom happened to bring up just how scared I was of them big helicopters as a toddler. Funny part is, there's no sound in my memory, just the visual. Weird, huh!

beskeptical
2002-May-29, 01:35 AM
On 2002-05-28 12:47, Wally wrote:


Are you sure you remember something that happened at the age of three? Was there a family foto of the event? True memories from that age are not well documented but memories from a foto can be believed by the brain to have been real memories

I dunno. ... Several years later (when I was in my teens), my Mom happened to bring up just how scared I was of them big helicopters as a toddler. Funny part is, there's no sound in my memory, just the visual. Weird, huh!

Well, there you go. Your mom implanted those memories by telling you about them. Not that we have any evidence that it is conclusive your memories are not actual ones. But research has demonstrated just how easily false memories can be implanted in one's head. I'm not implying anything false in the events you describe, mind you.

Alien abduction memories are more likely implanted memories as well. That conclusion is based on the evidence that implanting a memory is demonstratable, while, actual evidence of abductions other than personal statements has not been demonstrated.

ljbrs
2002-May-29, 02:37 AM
At the age of 3 or 4, kids are usually still involved with the nearby world. The 4th of July is coming up. I think if you observe kids of that age they will be much more interested in fireworks on the ground in front of them and much less interested in the big ones overhead that are in the distance.

Binocs are ok for looking at Earthbound objects, but I'd go for a good space picture book (science oriented and age appropriate of course), or, a cool toy like a motorized Mars rover.


I, myself, first became interested in the night sky when I was a three year old (female) and have never forgotten it. I did not have a telescope at the time (even though my father was an optical physicist), but I will never forget that night. I wanted my *Daddy* to explain how everything got there (Milky Way) and have kept my interest in astronomy and astrophysics/cosmology ever since. I did not go into it as a career, because females got short shrift in astronomy and physics departments then, and I was not willing to put up with such treatment. Life is too short for nastiness.

I have been a minor officer for years in a wonderful astronomy group. I think that people who are interested in any facet of astronomy should find such a group.

ljbrs /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

Josh_imported
2002-May-29, 01:09 PM
On 2002-05-28 21:35, beskeptical wrote:

Well, there you go. Your mom implanted those memories by telling you about them. Not that we have any evidence that it is conclusive your memories are not actual ones. But research has demonstrated just how easily false memories can be implanted in one's head. I'm not implying anything false in the events you describe, mind you.


However, you are stating (not implying) that we do not remember these events apriori. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Simply because there is no way to prove that what I remember is an imprint of my experience, rather than an implant of a suggestion, does not mean that it is not a true memory of the event, as it happened. I am aware that the human mind is wide open to suggestion, and I know of the studies you mentioned. At best though, we can only agree that there is no way to be certain as to the authenticity of the memory.

Wally
2002-May-29, 01:51 PM
On 2002-05-28 21:35, beskeptical wrote:


On 2002-05-28 12:47, Wally wrote:


Are you sure you remember something that happened at the age of three? Was there a family foto of the event? True memories from that age are not well documented but memories from a foto can be believed by the brain to have been real memories

I dunno. ... Several years later (when I was in my teens), my Mom happened to bring up just how scared I was of them big helicopters as a toddler. Funny part is, there's no sound in my memory, just the visual. Weird, huh!

Well, there you go. Your mom implanted those memories by telling you about them. Not that we have any evidence that it is conclusive your memories are not actual ones. But research has demonstrated just how easily false memories can be implanted in one's head. I'm not implying anything false in the events you describe, mind you.

Alien abduction memories are more likely implanted memories as well. That conclusion is based on the evidence that implanting a memory is demonstratable, while, actual evidence of abductions other than personal statements has not been demonstrated.


But in this case, I told my Mom of my memory prior to her telling me how scared I was of the copters. Figured my terror is what imprinted the early memory, as my Mom was using a floor machine to clean the kitchen and couldn't hear my screaming & pounding.

beskeptical
2002-May-31, 10:30 AM
OK you guys, you can believe you have real memories from the age of three if you want to. Maybe you are exceptions to the rule. I will have to defend myself here though, so you don't go spreading 'bad' child development around town.

I only mentioned the false memory experiments to support my premise that it is easy to be tricked into thinking a false memory or a distorted one is a real memory. This can be repeatably demonstrated in all young children.

There is a mountain of research on brain development that has shown at what age our brains are capable of remembering events. A newborn can already recognize voice character and speech cadence, memory of faces and actual voices comes next etc. etc., until you get to the point in brain development when actual event memory can be retained. This is well researched. It is not an hypothesis from a few social/psychological experiments. You are not born with a fully developed brain!

Development is within a range so there are children who may be capable of earlier event memories than others. However, false memories from the age of 3 are much more likely than true memories. Again, 'false' does not mean there is no truth to the event. It just is more likely that a person attains the memory from other triggers later than the age of three, despite believing the memories are direct.

I don't have time to find you a link and this isn't an astronomy topic so you may not be that interested anyway. If you are interested, I recommend you look into brain development and what development has to be completed for memories to be retainable, then see at what age that development occurs. If you find research rather than anecdotal evidence to support your assertion that many 3 year olds remember lots of things from that age I would be very interested to read it.

On a more practical note however, to interest a child in what we as adults are interested in usually means finding out what the child's interests are and building on those. If the child likes books, space toys, instruments (like binocs), or whatever, that is the direction I would go. Also, if I got a 3 or 4 year old binoculars, I'd get a small size that they could hold themselves, rather than a big one on a tripod. Unless you know mom or dad or someone is interested enough to help the little guy on a regular basis.