AAS 197, January 2001
Session 87. Innovations in Teaching Astronomy II
Joint Display, Wednesday, January 10, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[87.06] A Radio Astronomy Curriculum for the Middle School Classroom

J. Davis (Cloudcroft Schools & NRAO), D. G. Finley (NRAO)

In the summer of 2000, two teachers working on a Masters of Science Teaching program at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, spent eight weeks as interns at the Array Operations Center for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, New Mexico, under the auspices of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program. The resulting projects will directly benefit students in the indvidual classrooms, as well as provide an easy-to-access resource for other educators.

One of the products is a Radio Astronomy Curriculum for upper middle school classes. Radio astronomy images, based on scientific research results using NRAO's Very Large Array, are featured on trading cards which include an explanation, a ``web challenge'', and in some cases, a comparison of radio and optical images. Each trading card has corresponding lesson plans with background information about the images and astronomy concepts needed to do the lessons. Comparison of optical and radio astronomy is used as much as possible to explain the information from research using visible and radio wavelengths.

New Mexico's Content Standards and Benchmarks (developed using national standards) for science education was used as a guide for the activities. The three strands of science listed in the standards, Unifying Concepts and Processes, Science as Inquiry, and Science Content are addressed in the lessons. Higher level thinking and problem solving skills are featured throughout the curriculum.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. The NSF's RET program is gratefully acknowledged.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: jdavis@catvnet.net

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