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T. A. Smecker-Hane, C. E. Thornton (UC Irvine)
We discuss the Teachers' Workshop in Astronomy & Astrophysics, a 2-day long summer workshop we designed to aid K-12 grade teachers in incorporating astronomy and astrophysics into their curricula. These workshops are part of a faculty-led outreach program entitled Outreach in Astronomy & Astrophysics with the UCI Observatory, funded by an NSF FOCUS grant to the University of California, Irvine. Approximately 20 teachers from the Compton, Newport/Mesa and Santa Ana Unified School Districts attend each workshop. Our teachers realize that astronomy captures the imagination of their students, and thus lessons in astronomy can very effectively convey a number of challenging math and science concepts. Our workshop is designed to give teachers the content and instruction needed to achieve that goal. Because only a small fraction of teachers have taken a college astronomy course, an important component of the workshop is lectures on: (1) the motion of objects in the night sky, moon phases and the seasons, (2) the solar system, (3) the physics of light, and (4) interesting applications such as searching for planets around other stars and charting the expansion history of the Universe. The second important component of the workshop is the kit of material each teacher receives, which includes a introductory astronomy textbook, planetarium software, and the ASP's "Universe at Your Fingertips" and "More Universe at Your Fingertips", etc.. The latter two books give teachers many examples of creative hands-on activities and experiments they can do with their classes and instruction on how to build a coherent curriculum for their particular grade level. We also introduce teachers to Contemporary Laboratory Exercises in Astronomy (CLEA), a suite of computer lab exercises that can be used effectively in high school physics classes. For more information, see http://www.physics.uci.edu/%7Eobservat/#e&o.
Funding provided by NSF grant EHR-0227202 (PI: Ronald Stern).
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.