Astronomy Lab for Kids:
52 Family Friendly Activities
Available Presentations & Dates
The downloadable PDF below is a list of my current presentations. See something you like? Let me know! Don't see something you want? I may be able to create a custom presentation for you. Just ask!
Availability: I am generally available for evening programs on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Please refer to my unavailable list below and my program schedule, also below, before inquiring regarding a specific date/time.
When I am unavailable:
I am usually not available for weekday programs in the daytime, due to my full-time position at the Adler Planetarium.
Monday evenings, due to an ongoing work commitment
4th Wednesday of each month, due to an ongoing work commitment
Week of Thanksgiving
December 24-January 3
And the following dates: 21 July 2021
Presentations online: All my programs are available to be presented via the online platform of your choice. I have extensive experience using Zoom Meeting, Zoom Webinar, and Google Meet. You are required to provide the account to use for the program.
Speaking fees: My speaking fee is $125 for online programs. For in-person programs, my fee is $125 plus mileage (mileage varies by host location and date; inquire before booking for me to give you a total fee including mileage).
Booking discounts: If it is the first time you are booking with me plus you book more than one program at a time, I am happy to offer a 10% discount on my speaking fee (mileage/travel fees not included in discount). You must mention the booking discount when inquiring. That's how I can tell you've seen my website. ;)
Audio-visual and setup needs: My presentations generally utilize PowerPointTM. For in-person programs, I can bring my PC laptop, or if you would like me to use yours, I can either bring my presentation on a flash drive or if your computer is connected to the internet, I can access it online via a secure account. My presentations generally require only a projector and a screen. If you don't have a projector with a VGA or HDMI connector cable, I can bring my own projector.
Age recommendations: All my programs are appropriate for adults. If children wish to attend, it is at the discretion of their parents or guardians, though a general recommendation is that programs would be appropriate for children ages 10 and up. If you aren’t sure about the age recommendation for a program, please ask. I do not generally offer programs specifically for children.
Looking for program connections or need some suggestions? A few ideas are below:
If you are a location that hasn't hosted me previously, I highly recommend starting with Armchair Tour of the Solar System, Through the Eyes of Hubble, Roving the Red Planet, or Astronomy Using Your Eyes. These are the programs that have traditionally and consistently brought in the largest audiences.
March is Women's History Month. Program connection: Women in Astronomy
Does your library have a telescope for patrons to check out and you need a program to help people begin to use the telescope? Try Intro to Skywatching with a Telescope.
There are also numerous days throughout the year to celebrate all kinds of foods. Program connection: Space Food: Past, Present, & Future.
The yearly anniversary of Earth Day is April 22. Program connection: The Science of Climate Change
The Perseverance Rover is scheduled to land on Mars on February 18, 2021. Program connection: Roving the Red Plane
The next major telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, is scheduled to launch sometime in 2021 or 2022. Program connection: Through the Eyes of Hubble
The next major solar eclipses will be on Oct 14, 2023 (43% coverage of the Sun in the Chicago area) and April 8, 2024 (94% coverage of the Sun in the Chicago area). Remember the eclipse craziness of 2017? It'll happen all over again -- and possibly even more so, since the path of the totality portion of the solar eclipse will be about 150 miles closer to Chicago than in 2017. Program connection: The Great North American Eclipse. Words of advice: Please request your solar eclipse presentation dates EARLY - ideally starting in September 2022 for program dates from May 2023 through March 2024 - but requesting them earlier is even better. I was fully booked-up for June, July, and August 2017 by December 2016, and Huntley Public Library even sent in a request in 2013 for a program date in 2017. Again, it's never too early, but "too late" comes quickly for an extremely popular topic like this. Due to anticipated work commitments, I will not book programs on any dates from March 30, 2024 through April 8, 2024.
Michelle Nichols is Director of Public Observing at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, IL, and has worked at the Adler since June 1995. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction from National-Louis University. Ms. Nichols leads all of the Adler Planetarium's telescope, observatory, and public sky observing initiatives and events.
Ms. Nichols has served as an advisor for several children’s books: Superfast Rockets, Space: Surviving in Zero-G, Ellen Ochoa: Reach for the Stars, and The Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion, as well as the Scholastic News Nonfiction Readers series: The Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, The Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto: Dwarf Planet, and Comets.
Astronomy Lab for Kids (2016) is Michelle's first book as author.
UPCOMING EVENTS IN ILLINOIS
Nov 23* - 7 pm - Future of Space Exploration - Elmhurst Public Library
Dec 1 - 7 pm - The Science of Climate Change - Naperville Public Library
Dec 9 - 7 pm - Astronomy Using Your Eyes - Wauconda Public Library
Jan 27 - 7 pm - Roving the Red Planet - Glen Ellyn Public Library
Feb 1 - 7 pm - Roving the Red Planet - Elmhurst Public Library
Feb 23 - 7 pm - Astronomy Using Your Eyes - Naperville Public Library
Mar 11 - 7 pm - Women in Astronomy - Flossmoor Public Library
Mar 24 - 6 pm - Women in Astronomy - Three Rivers Public Library
Mar 29 - 7 pm - Women in Astronomy - Bloomingdale Public Library
Apr 22 - 7 pm - The Science of Climate Change - North Riverside Public Library
Jun 29** - 7 pm - Looking for Earth Elsewhere - Rolling Meadows Public Library
*Rescheduled from original date (17 Nov 2020)
**Rescheduled from original date (18 Nov 2020)
Please confirm program dates/times, registration requirements, and/or registration residency restrictions with individual program hosts. All programs listed above are expected to occur online. All programs are for hosts located in Illinois, unless otherwise stated.