AAS 197, January 2001
Session 54. Education and Public Outreach
Joint Display, Tuesday, January 9, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[54.08] Project ASTRO BOSTON

C. M. Clemens, F. R. Harnden, Jr. (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA), Marianne Dunne (MoS)

At sites chosen by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific throughout the country, Project ASTRO forms and supports partnerships between teachers and astronomers in order to instill a life-long love of astronomy and nature in grade-school students. Begun in Massachusetts in April 1998, and hosted jointly by the Boston Museum of Science and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Project ASTRO Boston (PAB) has trained 72 teachers and 60 astronomers over the past three years. PAB schools from the Greater Boston area and southern New Hampshire include public or charter schools, community centers or camps and private schools.

PAB is an education program designed to help students, teachers and astronomers. Teachers not only receive valuable training and materials but most also report a renewed enthusiasm toward teaching. Astronomers gain insight into the teaching process and a better understanding of the public's comprehension (and misconceptions!) of science and astronomical concepts. Students show a very noticeable increase in interest toward science as a result of their interactions in PAB.

This year Massachusetts has reissued science standards that serve as baselines for the curricula produced by most town school systems. PAB has expanded to grades 2 through 12 in order to help different districts (which teach astronomy in different grades) address these new standards better. The new MCAS tests are given in grades 4, 8 and 10, and passing these tests is now a requirement for high school graduation. PAB helps with MCAS preparation not only because it covers astronomy and the scientific process, but also because it covers writing, especially with journals, and because many of the activities span the curriculum.

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