This article was published in the Boulder Daily Camera.
By Amy Bounds, Daily Camera Staff Writer
Jeffrey Bennett, a Boulder astrophysicist and educator, recently sent his seventh science book into space.
An advance copy of his latest children’s book, “I, Humanity,” was among the 7,700 pounds of cargo successfully delivered Dec. 9 to astronauts on the International Space Station.
As part of the Story Time From Space program, the astronauts plan to film themselves over the next couple of months reading “I, Humanity” and six other children’s books in space. The video then will be made available online.
“Anyone can watch it and be part of the story,” Bennett said. “Hopefully, it inspires kids to want to do great things.”
This summer, there’s a plan to send up a series of demonstrations that the astronauts will conduct in orbit to illustrate science concepts from the program’s books. A previous set of demonstrations was destroyed when the SpaceX rocket blew up in June a few minutes in to its flight.
To help revive the project after that loss, Bennett donated $50,000 to help with the cost of rebuilding the science demonstration kit.
Also in the works is creating lesson plans for teachers that support current science standards and can be used in conjunction with the videos from space.
“The goal is to provide a deeper education experience,” Bennett said.
In the meantime, Bennett is planning a reading later this month at Fiske Planetarium. The reading will be followed by a chance to ask questions and a planetarium show.
“It should be a lot of fun,” he said.
Bennett’s first four books revolve around Max, a dog, and his adventures in space — he goes to the moon, Mars, Jupiter and the International Space Station. Bennett said he uses Max’s story to teach science concepts.
The fifth book is about a wizard who saves the world from global warning.
Those books were sent to the space station in January 2014.
A sixth book, a textbook titled the “The Cosmic Perspective,” was taken up on the shuttle for the Hubble Servicing Mission in 2009.
Bennett said the idea for “I, Humanity,” which was published in January, came after a visit to schools in Ethiopia, where he said students received a good foundational education but were missing major advances in astronomy.
He told the story of major astronomy advances in the first person so “a child reading it would feel like they made the discovery themselves.”
As with his other children’s books, he said, the science is explained in sidebars, allowing younger students to enjoy the stories and older ones to delve more deeply into the concepts behind them.
“What we want to do with kids is give them education, perspective and inspiration,” he said. “With space, you can see our world in a different way. Kids think space is cool. It inspires them.”
What: “Story Time From Space” event
When: Feb. 20
2 p.m. — reading of ” I, Humanity” by author Jeffrey Bennett, followed by book signing
3:15 p.m. — “Max Goes to the Moon” planetarium show
Where: Fiske Planetarium, 2414 Regent Drive, Boulder