I am pleased that President Thomas Kraupe has appointed me as chair of the IPS Education Committee. I took over this position at the Beijing IPS biennial conference. I want to thank Jack Northrup for his excellent articles in Planetarian stressing astronomy activities while he was chair, and he will continue his articles and has agreed to continue as a member of the Education Committee. Thanks, Jack, for all of your work. Thanks, too, to all who have worked with Jack on the Education Committee.
I hope that, with the transition, the educators who have previously served will continue to do so. I particularly want to thank long-time Education Committee member Francine Jackson for discussing work of the committee with me.
While in Beijing, two meetings were held that have great bearing on the future of the Education Committee. The first was a brainstorming session in which I asked a small group of involved educators what they thought the Education Committee should be doing: its goals, activities, and methods.
A top priority is that the committee should be inclusive and international in nature. Another major desire is that we become aware of the astronomy curriculum across the planetarium community, which means determining and then reporting what is done in different planetarium affiliate areas.
We need to find the focus of astronomy topics related to level in different countries. There is wide agreement that we should support, report, and possibly even develop research opportunities which impact the educational experience in the planetarium. And we need to coordinate with other IPS committees in setting goals and planning strategy.
Members of the Education Committee will be looking at all of the ideas, prioritizing them, and working in teams or alone to develop a large picture of what planetarians can and should do to help students at all levels learn astronomy. Thanks to IPS Secretary Lee Ann Hennig, who took careful notes of the excellent suggestions made at this meeting.
The second relevant meeting in Beijing was a session of IPS committee chairs with President Thomas Kraupe. Thomas noted that the IPS committees do not act independently; the president also should help set the goals of each.
Thomas directs the Education Committee to have educational research, particularly research specifically related to the planetarium experience, as a major goal. Everyone at this meeting also noted the need for IPS committees to be working together. Thomas asked that the paper I presented in Beijing, "Suggestions for Some Best Educational Practices," be printed in Planetarian. Therefore that paper appears in the September issue.
In each future issue of Planetarian, the Education Committee will have a meaningful, focused article related to its goals. I am delighted to be working with a dedicated group of people who will be involved in preparing the articles and doing other work for this committee; the names of these dedicated people will be published in a future article. If you would like to work on the Education Committee, please contact me.
I also look forward to keeping updated information about the Education Committee on the IPS website. I am excited about this committee's future.