We've tested Sky Calls. In 2003-2004, more than 625 students and 25 teachers participated; these people were located in California, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Kids loved getting the phone calls. So did parents. In fact, parents and kids usually ended up outside together sharing the experience.
We surveyed participants at the end of the school year and here is what we learned:
95% of students said they looked forward to their Sky Calls. 81% did the activity with a member of their family: a mom, dad or guardian. More than 89% said they discussed what they learned with their family, friends or classmates the next day.
Parent responses were positive, too:
90% of parents surveyed said they participated in Sky Calls with their children. 85% said they discussed the activity as a family, and 88% said they wanted to do it again next year.
And, finally, here are some comments from teachers:
Mary Kirksey, Trent Lott Middle School, Pascagoula, MS: "The program is wonderful!!! I would like to make it part of our school registration process (parents sign permission form in July @ registration). It would really be great if the kids could get more than one call reminding them to go and look. Please don't do away with the program. The children really enjoyed it and so did I!"
Judy Hughes, teacher, Woodville School Woodville, Alabama: "Dear Dr. Lebo, I want to thank you and Dr. Tony Phillips for the Sky Call program. The students at Woodville School were very interested in the program. Even the adults--teachers, principals, and parents--who participated in the program were enthused. Each night we could not wait to see the events that were unfolding. If there is another opportunity for our school to participate in any of your astronomy programs, we would certainly welcome it."
Christine Lachaussee, Mississippi Beach Elementary School, Pascagoula, MS: "The Skycalls program was wonderful! My students loved getting the calls from Dr. Phillips and were fascinated when they could actually identify the planets in the sky. The packets that were sent were very beneficial to me as a teacher. Parents have even told me how excited they were to be involved with their children in learning about the heavens. My thanks go out to Dr. Phillips and everyone involved in this worthwhile program. I really don't have any suggestions on how the program could improve. I hope you continue to receive funds because I am looking forward to another great year."
Molly Town, St. Aloysius School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: "My students, family, and I enjoyed receiving the various informative phone calls and e-mails. We were all eager to run outside and see what interesting sights the sky revealed. It has been an enlightening, exciting program, and hopefully it will be able to continue. Thank you!"
Carla Daws, Owens Elementary School, Athens, AL: "I have been pleased with the Skycalls program. As a fourth grade teacher, my students were very excited to get a phone call or email from Dr. Phillips. I think it has helped to promote an appreciation for the exciting events that have taken place in the past few months with the planets. We have an observatory at our school and a newly formed astronomy club. So, we are very interested in anything having to do with our galaxy. I hope the program continues."