Information for Teachers and Parents

General Overview

Rationale

Astronomy education has typically been a challenge for many elementary school teachers, due to both the complexity of the subject area, and the shortage of quality resource materials available to teachers. As a result, many teachers struggle with astronomy units, leaving keenly interested students with misleading information and the feeling that astronomy as a science is unimportant. The opportunity to capture students' scientific interest through astronomy may be lost forever. A further need for quality resource materials stems from the fact that the sixth-grade Pan-Canadian science curriculum requires students to display competencies in a broad range of astronomy and space science objectives.

By providing teachers with accessible resource material, we hope to address this pervasive problem. The resource material presented here will address four key areas of concern:

  • Instructing teachers in astronomy
  • Appropriate lessons and activities to reinforce student learning
  • Providing students with hands-on experiential learning opportunities
  • Introducing teachers to technology-assisted learning experiences for their students

Website Outline

The content material we have developed has been specifically aimed at the sixth grade science curriculum and addresses all of the Pan Canadian curriculum objectives for astronomy and space science.

The website takes the form of comprehensive content modules consisting of the following elements:

  • Curriculum matrix displaying Pan Canadian curricular fit
  • Background information for teachers
  • Teaching suggestions for the module
  • Grade-level appropriate glossary of vocabulary words and key terms
  • Content linkage between modules (summaries)
  • Grade-level appropriate lesson plans and student activities
  • Interactive computer applets for demonstration purposes and student activities
  • Extension activities including hands-on and technology-assisted learning experiences
  • Evaluation rubrics

We believe the elements and format used for organizing the content modules will serve both the teachers and students well, in that they begin by teaching the teachers the content and offering them suggestions as to how best to present and teach the material to the students. They then offer teachers the opportunity to guide the students through hands-on experiences that will enable them to gain a stronger appreciation and understanding of astronomy and science in general. By including technology-assisted learning experiences with the other strategies indicated, teachers will be able to provide students with the opportunity to learn and to use information technologies in communicating the knowledge they have acquired throughout the unit.

The use of images

All images contained within this website are used solely for the purpose of education, and unless otherwise noted are used in accordance with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's educational policies.

Most of these images were obtained from the following two NASA sponsored websites: