AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 65 Astronomy in the K-12 Classrooms
Poster, Tuesday, 9:20am-6:30pm, January 10, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[65.01] Astronomy in the Delaware Public Schools Curriculum

H. Shipman (U. Delaware), K. Martin, J. Moyer (Del. Dept. of Education), J. Baldwin (Middletown Middle School), D. Bole (J.B. Moore Middle School), H. Bouchelle (Starwalk Planetarium, Colonial School District), S. Densler (Central Middle School), J. Gizis (U. Delaware), M. Matthes (Rehoboth Elementary School), B. Mills (Delmar Middle School), G. Stubbolo (Middletown Middle School), J. Sypher (Springer Middle School)

100 years ago, the Committee of Ten cast astronomy into the back rooms of K-12 education, among other things. Ten years ago, the State of Delaware approved science standards which brought astronomy back to center stage. “Earth in Space” is now one of eight strands in the state’s K-12 science standards. The authors of this paper form a team of university astronomers, K-12 teachers, and dedicated workers in the state’s department of education. We guide statewide efforts to transform the nice words in the standards into high-quality classroom teaching.

Our most robust achievements are in middle school, where the the FOSS Planetary Systems kit has given all Delaware eighth grade students an extensive exposure to astronomy. The authors of this paper have written additional materials, most classroom-tested by us, to supplement the kit and align the contents of the 8th grade curriculum with the Delaware standards. Pilot testing of the new curricular units begins in the spring of 2006, and astronomy questions will soon appear on the state assessments.

Implementation of the standards in K-5 and in high school now varies considerably from teacher to teacher. We plan to help teachers who know little or no astronomy do more in their classes. In high school, a unit on the Big Bang will be developed in conjunction with a unit on biological evolution. In K-5, astronomy activities can naturally be introduced along with the other science curriculum kits that the state has used for the past decade to produce demonstrable, statistically significant improvements in student achievement. HS will lead a small team which will develop support materials. We thank the State of Delaware, private industries, the National Science Foundations Distinguished Teaching Scholars Program (DUE-0306557), and the NASA E/PO program for support.

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

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