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Date: Aug 29, 2007
Hofstra's Astronomy Outreach Program Wins NASA Grant to Bring Stars to Hospitalized Kids
Program designed to ease fears, stress of children at the Hagedorn Pediatric Inpatient Center at Winthrop University Hospital
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY – NASA has awarded $50,000 to Hofstra’s Astronomy Outreach Program to bring star-gazing and hands-on astronomy activities to children receiving medical treatment at the Hagedorn Pediatric Inpatient Center at Winthrop University Hospital.
This is the second NASA grant to the outreach program in just over a year, said Adjunct Associate Professor of Astronomy Donald Lubowich, who coordinates the outreach program and wrote both grant applications. The first was a $44,500 grant to purchase a telescope and train staff at the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island in New Hyde Park.
The Winthrop program in Mineola is unique to the region and will feature activities for children and teenagers designed to help them and their families cope with the stress often associated with illness, injury or surgery, Prof. Lubowich said. It will include hands-on astronomy activities; direct telescope observations; remote and robotic telescope observations; and a portable planetarium with a dome that can accommodate a wheelchair and IV pole. Hospital staff and volunteers will be trained to run some of the activities. The program is being conducted with Winthrop’s Child Life Program at Hagedorn Pediatric Inpatient Center, which is designed to minimize a child's fear and stress as a result of the hospital experience.
The program, which will begin this fall, was made possible by a grant from the NASA Initiative to Develop Education through Astronomy and Space Science (IDEAS) program.
Prof. Lubowich, who also directs Hofstra’s monthly Stars on Sunday program, has taught astronomy for 27 years and has conducted astronomy outreach activities for 10 years, including at summer camps run by the Fresh Air Fund for disadvantaged children and children with special medical needs. Hofstra Adjunct Associate Professor Joe Caprioglio, who has taught astronomy for 26 years and is a planetarium director, also will participate in the program.
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