AAS 206th Meeting, 29 May - 2 June 2005
Session 26 Astronomy Education: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Invited, Monday, 4:30-5:20pm, May 30, 2005, Ballroom B

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[26.01] Astronomy Education: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly -- A Practical Guide for Those Who Teach and Those Who Don't

A. Fraknoi (Foothill College & A.S.P.)

Whether you teach undergraduate astronomy or just do occasional public outreach, you’ve probably seen personal examples reflecting the disturbing statistics. Roughly half of all freshmen entering the California State Colleges cannot do English or math at the college level and need remedial courses. Only 22% of adults in the U.S. can correctly explain what a molecule is. More people will watch each pseudoscience-filled episode of “Unsolved Mysteries” on television than will be taught an astronomy course by all the people at this AAS meeting combined.

In this talk, we will briefly examine the challenges for everyone interested in astronomy education in three arenas: (dwindling) astronomy instruction in grades K-12, the teaching of Astro 101 for non-science majors, and the work of astronomers contributing to the public understanding of science. (For example, with the modern growth of astronomical knowledge, trying to teach ALL of astronomy in one quarter or semester is like trying to buy one of each item at your local Wal-Mart -- your cart will be impressively full, but your ability to get to know and enjoy each purchase will be severely limited.) We’ll also look at some surprising result from a survey of the training and work of 400 astronomy instructors at non-research-oriented colleges.

We’ll then focus on some practical ideas on how all astronomers can contribute to improving the public appreciation of astronomy -- in their classes, in their institution’s outreach work, and in the community. Several projects around the country that have found research-based techniques for making a significant difference will be highlighted, from family astronomy community events to experiments with hands-on small-group activities in the midst of large lecture classes. We’ll discuss the role of a new electronic journal and web-based communities in facilitating the exchange of information on what works and what doesn’t.

Participants will receive an annotated resource guide to key readings, research findings, and ongoing projects in astronomy education.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.astrosociety.org/education.html. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #2
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.