Last week, some of the fifth graders at Coronado K-8 School felt like Christmas came early. The Sun City Oro Valley Astronomy Club made it possible for every student in Rose Adamo’s science class to receive a telescope that they could take home.

Step by step, the students opened their boxes and pulled out moon filters, eyepieces, lens caps and the telescopes themselves. Subtle housekeeping tips were given to the excitedly buzzing classroom, like “don’t look at the sun with it” and “keep fingers and other things out of the telescope.”

For the students, this was all new and exciting, but the club has donated about 500 telescopes to students at the school over the last four years. 

The donations are made possible through the Project Astro program, where teachers are offered a workshop to learn hands-on activities that they can pass onto their students in the classroom.

The response has been wonderful.

“I feel they are so fortunate,” said Adamo. “I don’t ever see them having an opportunity like this again. I am hoping that this will inspire some young astronomer in the future.”

That is essentially the goal of the program in which the club members come to the school and spend entire days working with numerous students, talking about the size of planets, the phases of the moon, and numerous other elements related to astronomy.

The goal is to encourage the fifth graders to start taking an active interest in math and science.The telescopes given to the students were valued at $50 each, which is funded through state tax credits that people allocate towards the school and this program.

“We go around and twist a few arms in Sun City,” said Bob Cratty, the club’s leader.

The credits aren’t used solely for the telescopes.

“What we are doing also is trying to raise money in the same form to send some seventh graders to an astronomy summer camp up on Mount Lemmon where they do actual science work,” Cratty said.

Next week, the students will spend their class time outside on the field doing an exercise where they will learn the distance of the planets from the sun.

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