Planets, Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe



My philosophy for the course and the project

This course is a true survey of astronomy. Although topics have been covered in some depth, in order to cover all of them, you have been referred to a host of additional resources that you may have investigated already or can follow up with after the course ends. You presented to each other additional resources that you find useful to help explain some of the concepts we covered in the course, too. In some cases, you were asked to discuss specifically how you teach some of the topics you studied in ASTRO 801.

This course was constructed by piecing together what I consider to be excellent resources available from NASA, other universities, Starry Night, and a few that I and my colleagues have created. I fully expect all of you to take what you find useful and incorporate those into your teaching.

I am not an expert in pedagogy at the K-12 level, but I have read some of the research and conducted my own on teaching and learning of astronomy. I have studied the PA state standards, the National Science Education Standards, and most recently the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards. In particular, the NSES emphasizes the need for science teaching to increasingly rely on inquiry-based techniques, and the NGSS talks describe the integration of science practices and science content in the K-12 classroom. I have adopted many of these in my teaching, and when I teach face- to-face professional development workshops for teachers, I model inquiry-based activities and find these to be the most successful at transferring knowledge.

Given the emphasis on these types of pedagogies in most science methods courses at universities and in the education literature, I am going to focus our capstone activity on inquiry-based activities.

Capstone Project Overview

For this project, you will choose to develop one of the following:

  1. An inquiry-based classroom activity
  2. A laboratory exercise
  3. A detailed learning object (unless you are an experienced programmer, you will not submit a working learning object, but a storyboard for one)

Examples of each are provided on the next page.

The overall project will be broken up into three parts, presented on the next few pages.

  • Part 1: Topic, Audience, & Project Type
  • Part 2: Learning Objectives & Detailed Project Description
  • Part 3: Final Project Report