Teaching Astronomy - Why and How?

Teaching Astronomy - Why and How?

Postby steve-fung » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:07 am

This paper by John R. Percy (JAAVSO 2006;35:248-254) was presented at the 1997 Spring Meeting of the AAVSO with an audience composed of teachers, amateur and professional astronomers.

It lists several reasons why astronomy should be taught in schools:
1. Astronomy has influenced our history, culture, religion, calendars.
2. Astronomy has practical applications to timekeeping and navigation.
3. Astronomy has advanced mathematics, science, and technology.
4. Astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology has led us to understand our origins and the universe.
5. Astronomy promotes observation, a useful alternative to experimentation in the scientific method.
6. Astronomy can be used to illustrate many concepts in physics.
7. Astronomy attracts young people, increase awareness, understanding, and appreciation of science and technology.
8. Astronomy has aesthetic appeal and can be enjoyed as a hobby.
9. Amateur astronomers can continue to do science beyond school, contribute to astronomical education and research.

It also lists several problems and issues to teaching astronomy:
1. Some teachers have little or no background in astronomy or astronomy teaching.
2. Students do not have an understanding of lunar cycles, seasons, etc.
3. Students are taught astronomy at ages not age-appropriate given their intellectual development (e.g, understanding planetary rotation and orbits in 3D).
4. Students are not given inquiry-based/hands-on learning on astronomy.
5. Stars come out at night but students do not, unless parents/educators encourage them to observe at night.
6. Misconception that telescope is essential to teach astronomy (helpful but not necessary, even basic visual observation of sundials, seasonal/lunar phases, planetary motion relative to stars will do).
7. Astronomy has no "economic" value. Society places higher emphasis on business and economics.
8. In some countries, few women in physical science and science teaching.
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Re: Teaching Astronomy - Why and How?

Postby steve-fung » Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:26 am

On NetSlyder, I'm very excited that so many people have responded to the call of educating the public, actively approaching school districts offering our services of bringing astronomy to the classroom. Just wondering if we can also go in the opposite direction - are there are any professional astronomers, faculty in dept of astronomy/physics in the group that we can work with? We are literally on UH campus every month. Rice University and other institutions of higher learning are also nearby. This would make great public awareness/student recruiting strategy for their departments. I would also love to learn from these professional astronomers.
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