AAS 197, January 2001
Session 54. Education and Public Outreach
Joint Display, Tuesday, January 9, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[54.07] Project ASTRO NOVA brings Standard Based Astronomy to New Jersey Schools.

W. van der Veen (Columbia U.), J. Vinski (Planetarium, Raritan Valley Community College), A. C. Gallagher (Hillsborough School District)

Begun in 1998, Project ASTRO NOVA is hosted by the Planetarium at Raritan Valley Community College in Somerville, New Jersey. It is part of a National Network of eleven Project ASTRO sites created by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific with financial support of the National Science Foundation (see other papers at this meeting).

Our goal is to bring hands-on inquiry based astronomy into classrooms and help teachers meet the New Jersey Science Standards. New Jersey mandates the teaching of astronomy in grades K-12 and statewide assessment takes place in grades 4 and 8.

Capitalizing on New Jersey's record number of amateur astronomers per capita our site has trained 75 astronomers (including 21 professional astronomers) over the last three years. Before the start of each school year a new group of astronomers is trained together with their partner teacher(s) in the use of hands-on and age-appropriate astronomy activities that support the New Jersey Science Standards. Astronomers adopt a classroom and visit the same students at least four times during the year. Currently 53 astronomers are participating during the 2000-2001 school year.

The program in New Jersey targets teachers in grades 3-9. A total of 114 teachers have been training at our annual workshops and 75 of them are participating during the 2000-2001 school year.

Satisfaction with the program has been high with students, teachers and astronomers. When students meet scientists as role models and experience that doing science can be a lot of fun they become more interested. At the same time teachers are re-energized and gain a better understanding of how to teach science and astronomy. Finally, astronomers have the satisfaction of making a real difference in the lives of thousands of children, gain a better understanding of the issues in K-12 education and learn new teaching strategies for use in their college classes or astronomy clubs.

In general we find that students and teachers are becoming better astronomers and scientists and that astronomers are becoming better teachers.

Project ASTRO NOVA acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation, the 3M Corporation, the New York Mercantile Exchange Charitable Foundation and the New Jersey Space Grant Consortium.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.raritanval.edu/planetarium/astronova.html. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: astro@raritanval.edu

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