Astronomy for Educators
Daniel E. Barth, University of Arkansas
Copyright Year: 2018
Publisher: University of Arkansas
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The text is comprehensive in the astronomy ideas and learning activities that are presented. A detailed glossary is provided as well as a list of famous people in astronomy. For each activity, the author provides the same content and organization... read more
The text is comprehensive in the astronomy ideas and learning activities that are presented. A detailed glossary is provided as well as a list of famous people in astronomy. For each activity, the author provides the same content and organization including sections like Facts You Need to Know, Teaching and Pedagogy, and Going Deeper. Activities include a list of connections aligned to the 3-dimensions of the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards; however, these connections are not fundamental to the organization of activities and ideas. It would be helpful to pre-service teachers if the activities were presented in a 3-D structure.
The content of the text is accurate and it is presented in an approachable format for the intended audience, elementary pre-service teachers. Each activity includes a concise summary of the relevant science concepts (content knowledge) as well as teaching and pedagogy suggestions (pedagogical content knowledge). For example, in an activity about solar eclipses, the author provides a list of four facts about solar eclipses, safety warnings, and suggestions for how to practice using materials prior to leading the activity with a group of students.
The content presented in this book is highly relevant for pre-service teachers. The majority of the book consists of hands-on learning activities organized by major themes in astronomy. This represents best practice in science education as it offers students the opportunity to learn science content by engaging in the practices of science. Rather than a traditional textbook filled with paragraphs summarizing the science completed by other people, this text is more like a lab manual in which students will build knowledge through their own explorations. The materials required for activities are inexpensive, easy to obtain, and safe, and pre-service teachers could modify and use the activities in their future classrooms.
The text is clear and easy to read. The author's tone is relaxed and reassuring in order to invite those who might be intimidated by the study of astronomy to engage with the content. When content vocabulary is used, the words are in bold type and definitions are easy to understand. Because the text consists primarily of hands-on learning activities, it would be helpful if the author included more pictures. Many activities only have descriptions of how to set up and use materials.
The text is internally consistent. The content, terminology, and organization of the book have a predictable pattern.
The book is broken into 13 units and further subdivided into activities (36 total). Each of the activities has a stand-alone structure that is obvious to the reader. It would be easy for another educator to use portions of the book, because of it structure. Each activity contains the same layout and sections using clear headings and breaks in the text.
The book is organized into 13 units, and each unit contains one to five learning activities. The units are organized around major themes in astronomy such as modeling earth and moon, lunar phases, the four seasons, and exploring gravity. The topics and activities follow a logical progression.
The text is a pdf file with numbered pages. It does not have significant navigation problems or distortion of images. Unfortunately, the text does not contain any embedded links to navigate from the table of contents to a particular or activity or a link to return to the table of contents. The pdf also does not have bookmarks to help the reader navigate.
I did not observe any grammatical errors in the text.
The text is not culturally offensive. The text does not have many images of people, but in those that contain people there is a lack of diversity represented.
Overall, this text is a valuable resource for science educators and their students. It presents what could be considered intimidating astronomy content in an easy-to-read, organized, and approachable manner. The learning activities could be adapted by pre-service teachers for use in their own classrooms.
Table of Contents
- Unit 1: Starting our Journey of Discovery
- Unit 2: Lunar Phases - A Simple Scientific Model
- Unit 3: Modeling Earth and Moon Together
- Unit 4: Measuring Time in the Sky
- Unit 5: Measuring and Mapping the Sky
- Unit 6: Exploring Gravity
- Unit 7: Proving the Heliocentric Model Correct
- Unit 8: Understanding Big Numbers - Size and Scale in our Solar System
- Unit 9: Orbital Dynamics - Planets and Moons in Motion
- Unit 10: War of the Worlds - How Impacts Build Planets
- Unit 11: The Four Seasons - Two Competing Models
- Unit 12: Safely Observing the Sun
- unit 13: Solar and Lunar Eclipses
About the Book
Astronomy for Educators provides new and accomplished K-12 instructors with concepts and projects for low-cost, high-impact STEM classroom instruction that is built around the National Academies National Research Council's K-12 Framework for Science Education.
About the Contributors
Daniel E. Barth, University of Arkansas