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Sharing the sky

Prolific comet-hunter David Levy hopes to inspire students in math and science by pointing to the sky.
March 15, 2006
Through his writing and discoveries, David Levy has motivated the public to look upward by sharing his passion for the sky. Now, he will use his love for astronomy to encourage young people in other fields. Levy, who has discovered 21 comets, has launched the National Sharing the Sky Foundation.

The organization's goal is to use astronomy to encourage young people to pursue interests in science and engineering. Levy will visit schools and convey his message to children throughout the United States. Using illustrations and music, he will share how he first got into and advanced in astronomy. Lectures also will focus on Levy's mentors, such as Clyde Tombaugh and Bart Bok. Eventually, other foundation members foundation will share their stories with students.
"It is hard to predict where the seed of enthusiasm will spread," Levy told Astronomy. "Inspiration in one science, like astronomy, can lead to a passion for another science."

The foundation grew from concerns that the United States is lagging behind other countries in science and engineering education. Recent data from the National Academy of Sciences shows U.S. high school seniors scored below average in a test of general knowledge in mathematics and science given to students in 21 countries.

The foundation is partnering with Meade Instruments and campuses in the State University of New York at Plattsburgh and Cortland. They plan to place a Meade 14-inch telescope at Plattsburgh's remote location near Lewis, New York — home of the annual Adirondack Astronomy Retreat. Meade will also give away telescopes to many schools involved with the foundation.
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