37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 13 Education and Outreach
Poster, Monday, September 5, 2005, 6:00-7:15pm, Music Foyer

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[13.03] I Got the Sun in the Morning and the Moon at Night

L. A. Lebofsky (LPL), N. R. Lebofsky (SCI)

Activities that help students and their teachers understand the Earth/Sun/Moon system go beyond teaching the phases of the Moon; they must also support inquiry-based learning and the science standards being developed in many states.

As part of on-going professional development programs, we have developed a series of activities that address a variety of standards-based elementary and middle school Space Science concepts. When these activities are combined with real observations of the Moon, we can then include a number of Inquiry concepts: patterns and motions, measuring with simple tools, planning and carrying out an experiment, graphing, error analysis, etc.

We show the teachers engaged in the following activities and related concepts: Measuring Your Fist (determining the angular size of your fist using astrolabes and cross staves), observing the Moon with and without telescopes, Motions (rotation and revolution of the Earth, Sun, and Moon; real and apparent motion), eclipses and phases of the Moon; Earth/Sun/Moon size and distance models (a variety of models that show relative sizes and distances, comparing linear, area, and volume relationships).

We have used these activities in several recent professional development workshops in three different states. ORION (Organizing Research, Inquiry, and Observing Nights) and STORI (The Summer Triangle: Observing, Research and Inquiry) are multi-state efforts to bring both science inquiry as well as Space Science content into upper elementary and middle school classrooms in Arizona, Ohio, and Arkansas. ORION is a 2-year project, supported by a NASA IDEAS grant and STORI is an expansion of ORION supported by a grant from the University of Arkansas. ORION trained 18 teachers in summer 2004 and this summer we are training an additional 40 teachers. Teachers in these workshops received 5- or 6-inch telescopes which they are incorporating into research and inquiry programs.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.