Online Sessions with Space Dave
Unfortunately, there is some bad news:
- Demand for my sessions is higher than I can accommodate, so I can't do sessions for everyone that wants one. Our booking form has more information including the session times that are currently available.
- I occasionally have to cancel or postpone a session at short notice. I'm sorry but it's a risk you need to accept if you book. I recommend that you have a backup plan for the session in case I can't make it.
Now, with the bad news out of the way, let's talk about the sessions...
How it works
The format is a video conference meeting in which I usually begin with a short introductory presentation, followed by questions and discussion from participants. However, this is completely flexible and you can do whatever you want with the meeting time. Let me know if you have specific topics or questions you'd like to cover. For more detailed information, see topics we cover.
I rely on donations to fund this service. It's more expensive than you might think and I need to average at least $100 NZD (£50 or $70 USD) per session just to pay the bills. If this is beyond your budget, you could try to get one or more other groups to join you in the session to spread the cost.
It's safer to wait until after the session to donate, just in case one of us has to cancel (or if you decide I'm not worth as much as you'd hoped). To donate, see the donation instructions.
Prepare for the session
I prefer to use Zoom but let me know if you'd rather use something else. In most cases, you schedule the meeting and invite me as a guest but I can host it if you prefer. If you're hosting, please send me the meeting details as soon as you have them.
To prepare participants for the meeting:
- If you want to explain who I am, you can describe me as an astronomy teacher and/or the owner of a space museum. Please do not call me an astronaut or tell people that I've been to space! I have not been to space, I just study and teach it.
- You might like to ask participants to think of questions in advance. You can send me a list of questions before the session if you like. It's best to have no more than about a dozen prepared questions, so we leave enough time for spontaneous questions.
If all participants will be in the same room (e.g. school classroom), the teacher/leader usually chooses students to ask questions. It's nice if I can hear them but often the teacher needs to relay the questions to me. If you can, set up your camera so I can see as many of the participants as possible. It's also helpful to see the teacher, but this is usually less important than the students.
If participants are joining separately (e.g. from their homes), then...
- It's helpful to have each participant set their screen name to the name of the person who will be talking or asking questions.
- Make sure everyone knows how to mute/unmute themselves. Practice before the session if necessary.
- If anyone has a name that is non-obvious or difficult to pronounce, it's helpful if you could give me a quick guide (we can usually do this at the start of the meeting before participants join—see below).
A standard session goes for about 50–60 minutes. If you want more time than this, let me know when you book.
If possible, I like to join the meeting with you and any other leaders about 5 to 10 minutes before the scheduled start time. This gives us a chance to check that everything is working, to go over the plan, and for you to tell me anything I might need to know about the participants. However, it's not critical that we do this. In some cases I join the meeting half way through; for example, you may want to do some other activities before I join.
Once we're all in the meeting and ready to start, we normally "spotlight" my video, or otherwise ensure that participants are always seeing my screen enlarged. I don't need to share my screen—my normal camera output contains everything we need.
I can take questions throughout the session. It's helpful if you can keep an eye out for participants with their hands up, and prompt me to take questions from those who've been waiting longest. I aim to give all participants the chance to ask at least one question, ideally more.
Note: My video feed is wide-screen format (16x9) rather than the more square-shaped (4x3) screen size. Please make sure your screen is set to show the whole wide-screen format. Hopefully you or someone on your team will know how to do this, but let me know if you need help with it.
If you have questions, please do me a big favour and check back through all the information above carefully, including any relevant links, to see if your questions have already been answered on these pages. If not, contact me.
How to book a session
Go to our booking page and follow the instructions. Please note that it may take several days to confirm your booking.