By Naomi Hatch
Nick Schienski represented the Little Colorado River Valley Astronomy Club at Snowflake Junior High School recently, demonstrating his telescope during a two-day outreach spending two days in Mike Eilertson’s science class.
He explained that he had contacted Eilertson, as well as teachers at various schools in the area, and Eilertson responded. Schienski was able to spend time with all the science students at SJHS.
He was so impressed with the students that he returned during the lunch hour with his telescope and after spending time with students, some who were not science students, he donated the telescope to SJHS.
“Students found it quite fascinating,” said Eilertson who was very excited about the 10” Dobson Reflector telescope. He said that he has taken it out at night and has seen galaxies, nebula, and Jupiter and its rings stripes. “It is a strong telescope that nearly doubles the light you can pick up.
“The proper instrument changes the whole feeling,” Eilertson continued, explaining that you can see Andromeda with binoculars, but “I saw it with the telescope and it took my breath away.
“One tool changes me as a teacher. The biggest challenge is finding the stuff, because the field is so small.”
Eilertson now wants to get a filter on the telescope so you can see during the day and a camera that will take pictures at night.
“After two days here I recognized the enthusiasm,” said Schienski, noting that is the number one reason he does what he does.
“It is obvious the administration of this school is very supportive of science teachers,” said Schienski. “Not only the teachers, but the students. That impressed me.”
The students were polite, attentive and participated in every class, which also left a big impression on Schienski.
Those impressions led to his donation of the telescope to the science program. “It brought me a great deal of pleasure, personally,” he noted. “This telescope is a fine instrument in an institution like this.”
On National Astronomy Day in 1967, Schienski went to an evening viewing and saw many things in the night sky. “I saw and I was smitten,” he said, and thus began his interest in astronomy.
“This is an outstanding, very rewarding gift you’ve given. I know we will show it for many, many years and inspire kids in their lives,” said SJHS Principal Brian Hoopes.
As these three men discussed the use of the telescope, their excitement and ideas grew. There was discussion on setting up the telescope during parent/teacher conferences, at athletic games and even starting an astronomy club. maybe even organizing a star party.
Hoopes said he hoped that this donation will “instill some kind of passion” in students.
“You have opened up an absolute treasure chest of opportunities for our kids,” he said.
“What delighted me more than anything is, I was able to open up eyes and opportunities like was done for me,” said Schienski, who preferred no praise for his donation.
At the end of the meeting Eilertson presented Schienski with a book about the Hubble Telescope with messages written in it from the students.