DPS 34th Meeting, October 2002
Session 31. Education
Poster, Chair(s): , Thursday, October 10, 2002, 4:00-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[31.09] Teacher Professional Development for Teaching Astronomy at the High School Level

S.S. Limaye (Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison), W.M Harris (Space Astronomy Laboratory, University of Wisconsin-Madison), W.T. Sanders (Dept. of Physics, University of Wisconsin-Madison), L. Wachtel (Madison Metropolitan School District)

In most Wisconsin High Schools, Astronomy has not been offered as a course, and only a few have after-school Astronomy clubs. With the recent publication of the National and Wisconsin Science Education Standards, many school districts are adopting their own detailed standards and modifying curricula by introducing Space Science content. Such districts face several challenges, the major hurdle being finding teachers who are able to teach the new content.

At the high school level, there is thus a growing need in Wisconsin for developing a cadre of teachers who have at least some content background in basic Astronomy and Space Science concepts and themes. This need was further highlighted by the relative lack of use of a recently constructed remotely operable observatory by the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), despite having held training workshops in the use of the facility. Simply creating the observatory was not enough as the teachers struggled with its incorporation in the curriculum for lack of adequate background knowledge.

With a view towards providing professional development in space science, we have begun a new effort that includes a summer workshop as well as hands-on experiencing astronomical observing for a select group of teachers. The workshop included presentations by scientists on topics relevant to a candidate high school space science curriculum and opportunities for teachers to share their ideas and proposed plans for implementing the space science content by developing curriculum units. The teachers toured several professional and amateur observatories in the vicinity of Madison, including MMSD's remote observatory, which they are likely to use in the coming academic year.

The effort will continue for the next two years with periodic group meetings as well as another workshop next summer.

This effort has been supported by NASA/IDEAS Grant HSD-ED-90244.01 and by WINNERSS, a Wisconsin Idea Program funded by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

If the author provided an email address or URL for general inquiries, it is as follows:


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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #3< br> © 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.