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Page 1. Editor’s Comments
Page 2. Assistant Editor’s Comments
Section A – Research
Page A3. The State of Astronomy Teaching in Québec’s Primary and Elementary schools: A Survey of Teachers
We present the results of a survey of Québec primary and elementary (K-6) teachers that questioned them about their practice of astronomy teaching in K-6 classrooms, background in Science and Technology (S&T), pre-service education, goals and objectives for astronomy teaching, attitudes toward teaching astronomy, resources and materials used, efficacy of pre- and in-service training, and needs for in-service training. A total of 138 respondents completed the questionnaire using an iPod app. We found that the majority of respondents didn’t study science after high school and have no experience in S&T employment. It was also found that only 43% of respondents actually teach astronomy to their class, using mostly reading material, and that half of them teach astronomy less than 5 hours per year. Major obstacles to teaching astronomy are lack of experience and training, lack of resources and equipment, insufficient classroom arrangement, and perceived incompetence in astronomy. Pre-service education in astronomy, in science, and in science teaching is considered mainly unsatisfactory or non-existent; in-service training consists mainly of conversations with colleagues and is considered inefficient or non-available. Most respondents consider that 3 to 5 hours of training per year in astronomy teaching would be sufficient for them to gain more confidence in teaching astronomy. Based on these results, ways to enhance the teaching of astronomy in Québec’s K-6 classrooms are discussed.
Page A41. The Development of a Mini-Celestial sphere Model to Enhance High school Students Conceptual Understanding of Astronomical Phenomena
Sopita Jansri, Deborah Jo Tippins, and Watcharee Ketpichainarong
This study investigated the impact of The Mini Celestial Sphere Model (MCS model) on high school students’ conceptual understanding of the celestial sphere, astronomy coordinate systems, the path of the Sun, and seasons. The MCS model was developed to enhance students’ understanding of the apparent motion of celestial objects in relation to Earth’s rotation on its axis. Ninety four high school students in Bangkok Thailand participated in an astronomy class for four weeks. A 5E learning cycle approach was used to facilitate students’ use of the MCS model to explore astronomy concepts. Twenty items pre-posttest was used to assess students’ conceptual understanding. Thirty students were interviewed before and after using the MCS model and were provided with a clear plastic dome to demonstrate their understanding during the interviews. The results indicated that prior to using the MCS model most of students held alternative concepts about the path of the Sun and seasons. After using the MCS model students’ conceptions and understanding of all topics improved. Most of them could explain that the apparent motion of celestial objects is caused by the Earth’s rotation on its axis and that the Sun’s path change and seasonal change is caused by the Earth’s tilted axis and its revolution around the Sun.
Section B – General Articles
Page B67. Status of European Planetariums Discussed at the 2014 Symposium of Planetariums
A symposium of planetariums discussed the status of the field in France, Germany and Italy. Key points are that in some countries, family visits are predominant rather than school and teachers, and that the economy impacts the ability of families to spend money for admissions, more than the effect of government funds for budgets.
Page B69. Astronomy in the Park: Linking Cultural Heritage and Dark Skies
This article outlines the impact of a project carried out by Nottingham Trent University in collaboration with the Peak District National Park Authority and the Peak District Dark Sky group. The project focussed on engagement with audiences not normally involved with astronomy, unconventional locations for astronomy, and utilizing simple observational skills side by side with advanced astronomy equipment. Visitors experienced how light pollution spoils the night sky and impedes a complete experience of some ancient sites within the Peak District National Park. The events triggered emotional responses from participants and developed a motivation to help reduce light pollution.
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