The Hubble team answers your questions

Browsing answers to questions already asked

A listing of categories containing questions asked and answered previously is being maintained. This listing of questions and answers is readily available.

Asking the Hubble team your questions

The opportunity to send Email questions to the men and women of the Hubble team was available from March through early June 1996; it is no longer available. We are grateful to the HST folks for generously volunteering their time to support this service. This section will describe some guidelines and procedures that were used for the process.

K-12 students and teachers could Email questions to researchers, engineers and support staff. This interaction was supported by a "Smart Filter" who protects the professional from Internet overload by acting as a buffer. The actual Email addresses of these experts remained unlisted. Also, repetitive questions were answered from an accumulating database of replies; thus the valued interaction with the experts was saved for original questions. (More information about how you can directly search this database will follow later).

Tips for asking good questions

Each and every expert is excited about connecting with classrooms. But it is important to remember that the time and energy of these researchers is extremely valuable. If possible, please review the materials available online to gain an overall understanding of the basics.It is best to ask questions that are not easily answered elsewhere. For example, "What does the Hubble Space Telescope do?" would not be an appropriate question.

We recognize that this creates a gray area about whether or not a question is appropriate. Simply use your best judgment. Since the main idea is to excite students about the wonders of science and research, please err on the side of having the students participate.

Some teachers have used a group dynamic to refine the questions that they email to experts. For example, after first studying HST material, students divide into groups and create a few questions per group. All of the questions are then shared, and students are given an opportunity to find answers to their classmates' questions. Those that remain unanswered are sent to the HST team.

Ideally, the act of sending questions will further engage the student in their learning. It may help to think back to an early stage of development when the 3 year old learns that repeating the word "why" can get parents to do most of the work in a conversation. The wise parent will try to get child involvement by asking "why do you want to know?". The same is true in the classroom. Teachers might want to help students to learn to ask good questions. Here are three questions the students might ask themselves as they submit their questions:

The last question is the most interesting. Student reflection on why they want to know something is a very valuable learning experience.

Logistics of sending in questions (address and format)

Questions were accepted from March through early June 1996. Questions are no longer being fielded.

We tried to acknowledge and answer all questions as quickly as possible. Our goal was to provide a basic acknowledgment immediately. In most cases we were able to provide an answer within one week to ten days.

One question per message

If you or your class had several questions which are unrelated, we asked that you please send each unrelated question in a separate Email message rather than as one message with many different questions. While this may be inconvenient, it was important because it helped us to keep track of the questions and ensure that no question remain unanswered. Messages that did not follow this request were unnecessarily delayed as we went through the extra step of splitting up the messages ourselves.

Twenty question limit

Any individual teacher was limited to submitting a total of twenty (20) questions during the life of the project. Hopefully this encouraged more classroom discussion about what students wanted to know and led to research done before asking questions.