Teaching a child about the universe is fun and has many benefits.
Astronomy expert Kirsten Banks says parents needn’t wait to teach their kids about space, and has given her top tips for making the learning journey a fun one.
“I think we should educate kids about astronomy very early in life,” she said.
“Speculating the wonders of the universe can promote an incredible imagination and fulfil a sense of place in the universe.”
Ms Banks, an Aboriginal astronomy educator who works at the Sydney Observatory, said parents teaching their kids about space should focus on how exciting and colourful it is.
“When teaching children about space, I like to focus on the wonderment of it all,” she said.
“How big it is, how vast it is. It’s all about inspiring children to want to learn more for themselves.”
Ms Banks’ interest in astronomy began during a high school excursion to IMAX theatre, where she and her classmates watched a documentary about the Hubble Space Telescope.
“I remember sitting there in the theatre, with the one size fits none 3D glasses sliding off my face, watching as incredible photos of space taken by this phenomenal telescope flashed upon the oversized screen,” she said.
“I realised in that moment that I needed to learn more about the universe, I had to study space and astronomy.”
Ms Banks said there were many great fun activities that parents could do with their children to support an exciting learning environment in astronomy and space.
“One simple thing you can do is go out at night and look up at the night sky,” she said.
She also recommended a new kids game called Starlink: Battle for Atlas.
In the toys-to-life game, players mix and match pilots, hulls, wings, and weapons to build the starship of their dreams.
“Starlink is a wonderful learning environment that promotes imagination and exploration and gets the whole family involved,” Ms Banks said.
Learning about the space system may throw up a few surprises, even for parents.
“One thing that surprises almost everyone I encounter, and it even surprises me, is just how big space is and how big things in space can get,” Ms Banks said.
“It’s incredibly hard to completely understand and fathom just how massive the universe is.”