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What is Project ASTRO?
Project ASTRO is a National Program that creates long-term partnerships between astronomers and teachers, or youth groups and community leaders. There are currently 19 Project ASTRO sites around the country. Project ASTRO WCU currently serves 6 surrounding counties including: Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery, Berks, and Philadelphia. The philosophy behind Project ASTRO is that students learn best when using hands-on, inquiry-based activities in combination with a constructivist approach to teaching. Project ASTRO pairs K-12 teachers and youth group leaders with visiting volunteer astronomers who have an interest in working with local schools and community organizations. A partnership usually consists of one astronomer and one or two teachers at the same school.
How does the program work during the school year?
The astronomers commit to making at least four visits to the same one or two classrooms or youth group. During these visits they answer students’ questions and lead or assist the teacher with astronomy activities. Examples of activities include the reason for the seasons, modeling the phases of the Moon, making a scale model of our Solar System, observing the moons of Jupiter, making a comet and modeling the life cycle of stars. Other visits may include going on field trips, creating an astronomy club or helping with science fair projects. Many partnerships organize evening stargazing parties during the school year, which are excellent opportunities to include parents and other classes in the school. Students and their families look through telescopes, locate the constellations and share class projects.
What training is provided?
Project ASTRO requires a 2 day mandatory workshop for both teachers and astronomers prior to beginning to work in a partnership. At the training workshop, teachers and their partner astronomers meet for the first time and are engaged in effective classroom hands-on astronomy activities that meet the PA state science standards. All participants receive a copy of The Universe at Your Fingertips, a collection of over ninety of the very best hands-on activities for teaching many aspects of astronomy. Partnerships also receive a variety of astronomy resources for use in the classroom. During the workshop partners develop a strategy for working together, in and out of the classroom, and start planning their astronomy lessons and the astronomer’s first visit. There is no cost to attend the workshop.
Project ASTRO provides a wonderful way for teachers to build on their knowledge of astronomy, meet the Pennsylvania science standards for astronomy and earth science, and provide a new and engaging experience for their students. Teachers may also earn ACT 48 credits through Project ASTRO and gain access to a set of resources at WCU available to supplement Project ASTRO activities.
- Openness to up to 4 visits from an astronomer
- Support from school or district administrator
- Attendance at a training workshop
- Hands-on inquiry based practices
Project ASTRO gives both professional and amateur astronomers the unique ability to open young minds to the beauty of the universe and share your love of astronomy with the next generation.
- Commitment to at least 4 visits to a classroom or youth group
- Attendance at a training workshop
- No teaching experience required
For more information, or to submit applications, contact:
Dr. Karen Schwarz
Project ASTRO WCU
West Chester University
750 S. Church Street
Merion Science Center, Rm 207
West Chester, PA 19383