Earth and Space Science

New Astronomy Class

I will be teaching a new High School class in Astronomy this fall. Not my area of expertise. I am looking for help in suggestions for activities, worksheets, powerpoints, etc. Whatever you have tried and found works to keep the kids interested. Fun, interesting stuff. This is not intended to be a class that is full of physics or math but is meant to lead to a love for and understanding of Astronomy. The biggest problem is that most of the textbooks seem to be College books recovered or are too heavy in math and physics. Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated since school starts in weeks. What it comes down to is that I am looking for a mentor/angel for this class. Thanks, Michelle

Michelle Harrison
Michelle Harrison
655 Activity Points

Hi Michelle and welcome to the discussion forums. There are a few ideas on a similar thread at: Astronomy.:Best Astronomy Lab Activities


Michelle mentions that she is looking for fun, interesting stuff - whatever others have tried AND
that she is wondering what texts teachers are using. So I hope those teachers teaching astronomy right now can provide Michelle with some ideas.

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
86483 Activity Points

Thank you, any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated. Michelle

Michelle Harrison
Michelle Harrison
655 Activity Points

NASA's After School Universe has ten great lessons that are good hands on activities. When I trained on these lessons with adults we all learned something interesting. John

Pa Stem
PA STEM
50 Activity Points

Thank you, I love NASA stuff and will check it out.

Michelle Harrison
Michelle Harrison
655 Activity Points

I teach middle school astronomy and usually pull together curricula from the wealth of online resources. NASA has an education component on their website. I read a newspaper article about an online program called space class and intend to try it with my students this trimester...I haven't gotten very far with it yet myself, but if you have access to a computer lab for your students, this may interest you. http://www.spaceclass.org/default.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fcontrolpanel.aspx If you are interested in cosmology, you may want to check out Stephen Hawking's Universe videos. there is a teacher's guide that goes with it. A bit too over the heads of my middle school students, but might be great for HS. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/hawking/html/home.html. Aloha!

Megan Dehning
Megan Dehning
390 Activity Points

Thank you for the suggestions, they help. Michelle

Michelle Harrison
Michelle Harrison
655 Activity Points

I am a senior Elementary Ed. major at UMBC. Flavio Mendez has been visiting our class the past month and has brought great ideas to the table and has personally, instilled a fascination of astronomy in me that didn't exist beforehand. I want to talk about an activity that we recently did in class. The link to the assignment is below: http://learningcenter.nsta.org/discuss/default.aspx?tid=6QwOLBhRSpQ_E The activity was a great way to showcase individual's artistic talents and self-expression. Also, it was a non-traditional way to teach science and had students responsible for creating their own teaching and learning (for themselves and other students). This may be a great wrap-up activity after learning about the solar system!

Lauren Clark
Lauren Clark
595 Activity Points

Thank you, this looks interesting and some of it can be adapted to other classes. Michelle

Michelle Harrison
Michelle Harrison
655 Activity Points

I don’t know if it’s too late or not, but I mentioned the book by H.A. Rey called The Stars: A New Way to See Them. Here’s what I wrote before: “What Mr. Rey did was figure out a way to draw the figures of the constellations as stick figures so that all you have to do is connect the dots, and you can “see” the image of Gemini, the Twins, or Taurus, the Bull, or Cygnus, the Swan. It’s amazing because you can spend a little time looking at the figures the way that he draws them and then go outside and find them right there in the sky. Rey’s book also has great information about how to visualize the scale of objects in the solar system. For instance, he shows that if the sun was the size of a beach ball placed on the goal line of a football field, and then, you place a pea on the line eighty yards out, you have the approximate scale of the sun and the earth and the distance between them. Being able to visualize that makes the size of not only the solar system but the whole universe astonishing. I was looking on the back of the book, and Albert Einstein wrote a blurb for it! I love this book.” Since I wrote the original post above, I have been studying the book, and one of the best learning features of the book is that Rey has a display of the night sky on one page, and on the facing page is the same night sky but with the constellations drawn in. I study constellation pages for a few minutes, usually focusing on one or two constellations near each other; then, I cover the page with the drawn constellations and try to pick out the constellations on the other page. Moving back and forth between the pages makes the patterns of the constellations stick quick and well in my head. I was thinking that one way to teach some constellations to the students would be to use the overhead projector and display the page with the constellations drawn in, and then switch to the other to review and learn them with the students. I even think that one method of assessment might be to use the page without constellations on it and present it to the students to draw in the lines to demonstrate which constellations they have learned. There may even be a way to gather the students with their parents in the evening and review the sky for constellations. For this, a laser pointer is very useful. Just be careful not to let students play with the laser (and you shouldn’t either) since directing the beam into the eye can damage vision. I hope that will help.

Veronica Winegarner
Veronica Winegarner
1870 Activity Points

Thanks, I will check it out. Michelle

Michelle Harrison
Michelle Harrison
655 Activity Points

Hi John, I checked out NASA"s after school universe, saw a sample lesson pdf...but How do I access the other lessons? Do I have to attend a workshop or something?

Sharon Chern
Sharon Chern
2640 Activity Points

Below are some great online websites which have lab materials, questions, and are free. http://onlinelabs.in/astronomy http://val.brookscole.com/

Keith Godlewski
Keith Godlewski
2810 Activity Points

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