The Scopes for Schools program is a low-cost, field-tested model
for professional astronomers to conduct outreach, curriculum development,
and teacher professional development in astronomy. The program is aimed
at minority and other underserved students (but all students may participate),
with an emphasis on curriculum development and on professional development
- inservice workshops
which enhance astronomy content, and pedagogical content knowledge;
- curriculum materials
(activities) and hardware (telescopes and digital cameras) for bringing
hands-on astronomy to the classroom; and
- a long-term partnership
with University scientists for ongoing curriculum and pedagogical development.
benefit from astronomy activities that are inquiry- and standards-based,
and from a hands-on experience building and using telescopes and digital
A significant factor in the under-representation of minorities in science
is the lack of adequate exposure during the K-12 years to meaningful (i.e.
"real") experiences in science. In astronomy, this results from a combination
of little-to-no teacher training in basic astronomy, and from lack of
curricular and other resources. Another important factor is the lack of
interaction between practicing scientists and schools with under-served
Scopes for Schools
addresses these problems by (1) providing students with fun, collaborative,
inquiry-based astronomy activities, (2) providing teachers with training
and materials to better incorporate astronomy into the standards-based
science curriculum, and (3) bringing professional and amateur astronomers
in direct contact with students and teachers.
Scopes for Schools
was designed to be a model that other astronomers and space-scientists
can replicate easily, at relatively little cost of time and money. The
model centers around the implementation of inquiry-based classroom curriculum
using telescopes and digital cameras, and an in-service training activity
for participating teachers.
professional development: Scopes for Schools provides an
inservice workshop for all participating teachers. This workshop exposes
teachers to inquiry-based, standards-based, age-appropriate classroom
activities for astronomy. Teachers also learn how to use reference texts
and sky software, and learn how to make observations with telescopes
like those they will eventually build. Teachers receive memberships
in the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and receive ASP materials
and newsletters, as a way of connecting them to a larger pool of teaching
and support resources.
building: Working in teams, participating students construct 4.5-inch
and 6-inch Dobsonian telescopes. Students learn about basic optics and
develop a sense of ownership over "their" telescopes. In partnership
with a local amateur group, students learn how to plan sky observations
(via software) and how to use their telescopes in the field to conduct
night-time "star parties". Students also construct simple digital cameras,
allowing them to collect real data and, if desired, to carry out extracurricular
research projects. Telescopes and digital cameras become the property
of the teacher.
development: Tapping extant astronomy curricula developed by NASA,
Scopes for Schools is developing inquiry- and standards-based
classroom activities. These activities center on observations of the
Sun, as this allows teachers and students to conduct observations with
their telescopes during the school day. One activity involves students
determining the rotation period of the Sun, by obtaining multiple images
of the Sun and following the movement of sunspots. Another activity
involves students in determining whether sunspots are "really black",
using digital imaging software to plot intensity profiles across sunspots.
Scopes for Schools is always interested in establishing new partnerships
with schools and teachers who want to bring the excitement of astronomy
into the classroom. Want to join the Scopes for Schools family?
Just contact us by clicking on the link below!
We are developing a kit so that other astronomers and educators can easily
replicate the Scopes for Schools program in their own community.
Check back soon! In the meantime, see this poster
presentation from a recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society.