Greetings from The Paley Center for Media’s Education Department!
Welcome to the latest installment of “What We’re Watching,” a weekly Paley Education@Home guide. During this unprecedented time, we thought we would reach out to our community with some tips and ideas for consuming media with your kids! We know that screen time has increased so we’re here to help! Each week we are highlighting a different theme that connects to two selected programs, one for younger kids and one for older students, each with related activities.

Consuming media with your kids is a perfect jumping-off point to making media literacy a part of your everyday lives. Familiarizing yourself with the basics is a great first step. In case you missed it, you can view our first edition about media literacy best practices. We also recommend the National Association for Media Literacy Education’s Parents Guide—it’s a terrific introduction!
Weekly Zoom Meet-ups
Fridays, 1:00 to 1:30 pm ET
You can join us at our weekly Zoom Meetup, Fridays from 1:00 to 1:30 pm ET, to chat about the episodes we are watching this week or whatever else is on your mind regarding media literacy and at-home learning. This Friday, August 7, will be the last Zoom meetup of the summer but don’t worry, we’ll start back up again after Labor Day.

For connection details, please RSVP to
What We're Watching: Star Gazing
Like so many other institutions, this summer’s programming at the Paley Center is completely unprecedented. One of the biggest changes we made was transitioning our teen internship program, Teen Transmitters, to be fully virtual. In our planning, we sought a theme for the program that would be fitting for the year 2020 and found our inspiration from Carl Sagan, the astronomer and author. We realized that 2020 needed its own Voyager-style Golden Record and that our cohort of NYC teens would be the perfect group to put it together. In the coming weeks, they will be taking over this newsletter space and sharing their own thoughts and feelings about the 2020 media landscape. As a kickoff this week, let’s dive into the media that Carl Sagan created and be inspired to do a bit of stargazing. There is something about looking up at the vast night sky and contemplating our place in the universe that really is perfectly suited to warm August nights.
This Week's Recommendation for Younger Students: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey: “Standing Up in the Milky Way” (2014)
Recommended for Grades 4+
Available to stream on Disney+

In 2014, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Seth MacFarlane, and Ann Druyan (Carl Sagan’s widow) rebooted the Cosmos series to inspire a new generation of space travelers. The series has some new touches (the animated sequences are particularly compelling) and Neil DeGrasse Tyson does a fantastic job as host, but overall it maintains the enlightening and contemplative tone of the original series.
Viewing Questions
  • What rules do scientists use to investigate new ideas?
  • What is a cosmic address? What is our cosmic address?
  • What proposal did Copernicus make? How was it received? Why?
  • Who was Giordano Bruno? What did he believe? How were his beliefs received? Why?
  • What is the cosmic calendar? How does it help us understand time, the universe, and evolution?
  • How do you feel while watching this program?
  • What questions do you have? What else do you want to know about the universe?

Extension Activity

Explore with SkyView!
SkyView is a free app (available on Apple or Android) that helps amateur stargazers understand exactly what they are seeing. It’s super intuitive and a great introduction to the constellations and other heavenly bodies that shine in the night sky.

Additional Resources


Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, with Gregory Mone

Disneyland: Mars and Beyond on Disney+
Miles from Tomorrowland on Disney+
This Week's Recommendation for Older Students: Cosmos: A Personal Voyage
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage: “The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean” (1980)
Recommended for Grades 8+
Available to stream on YouTube

The original Cosmos series celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year, but Carl Sagan’s worldview, which is deeply woven into the program, feels more relevant than ever. Sagan stresses the importance of scientific inquiry, speaks to the power of humanity’s connection with nature and each other, and ultimately, ponders what the future holds for our world. We can all learn something from his curiosity and humanity.

Viewing Questions:
  • What traits does Carl Sagan tell us we’ll need in order to investigate the “truth” of the cosmos?
  • What is a light-year? Why is it a useful measurement?
  • What are some examples of matter? Where can it be found?
  • What are some of the patterns of nature?
  • What do we learn about our Solar System?
  • What do we learn about the Earth?
  • What is the cosmic calendar? How does it help us understand time, the universe, and evolution?
  • How do you feel while watching this program?
  • What questions do you have? What else do you want to know about the universe?

Extension Activity

Voyager Deep Dive!
Spend some time on NASA’s Voyager site to learn all about the Golden Record and what it holds!

Additional Resources


Dip your toes into the literary works of Carl Sagan!



Contact, directed by Robert Zemeckis (1997)


Young Game Designers: This Is for You!
We are thrilled to offer our online student community exciting opportunities to learn game design through our partnership with the Urban Arts Partnership’s School of Interactive Arts (SIA).

The Ghost School: Interactive Video Game That Teaches Computer Thinking: Create your avatar then make your way through the levels of the haunted schools as you learn programming logic and syntax, computational thinking, and more.
Paley Online Classes
Explore these rich, full online classes, with complete thematic descriptions, clips from the Paley Archive, pre- and post-viewing questions, associated vocabulary, further online resources, and more.

As always, if you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at

Happy viewing,
Rebekah Fisk, Director of Education
Caroline Quigley, Senior Manager of School & Family Programs

Photos— Cosmos : Richard Foreman Jr. / FOX; Carl Sagan: JPL/NASA
Support The Paley Center for Media

We hope this inspires you to watch and learn together in a new way at home! The Paley Center is here for you and, now more than ever before, we would deeply appreciate your support. Please consider making a donation: