2006 EPO Award Recipient
Teacher the Solar System TEKS Using Immersion
Investigator: Patricia Reiff
Very few middle school teachers in Texas have been exposed to a course in Astronomy, yet all are expected to be able to teach the solar system to their students. Since 1998, we have been offering special content courses in Astronomy at Rice. These courses provide a very deep knowledge of the solar system; however, the number of teachers reached annually is relatively few. What is needed is a shorter program that can teach the essentials to a larger cohort of teachers. An ongoing partnership of Rice with the Houston Museum of Natural Science creates and distributes fulldome planetarium shows. These programs are used both in teacher workshops to teach teachers, and, using our portable planetarium system, are also brought to schools to teach the teachers and students directly. With funds from other sources, we have created Earth Science and Space Weather shows, but we have no funding to create a Solar System show. With this proposal, we can create a simple "Tour of the Solar System" program with new images from recent spacecraft missions plus immersive animations that help students understand the flatness of the solar system and the alignments that occur during eclipses. We will use the money to license previously-created material and, using in-kind time, will create new animations at HMNS to complete the show. Field testing will be done using our teachers in the Masters of Science Teaching Program.