Teachers “InVESTAgate” and Gain Professional Development with CosmoQuest

Oct 28, 2016 | Vesta Mappers

(This is a guest post from one of our Cosmoquest partners, Dr. Keely Finkelstein of the McDonald Observatory at University of Texas at Austin)

One of CosmoQuest’s goals is to develop useful curriculum materials for teachers to use in the class room. One of the ways we do this is by working with a group of experienced teachers who are part of a long-running teacher professional development program at University of Texas at Austin. These teachers help us test out and give feedback on any and all of CosmoQuest’s education materials. They also gain new PD experiences for themselves and new resources to share with their students.

Teachers doing the “Expedition Asteroid” activities. Credit: Keely Finkelstien.

Teachers doing the “Expedition Asteroid” activities. Credit: Keely Finkelstein

We’ve had two day-long meetings so far this Fall with about 15 teachers attending each meeting. At our first meeting in September (on September 24th) we looked at and explored some of the InVESTAgate activities that had already been developed. The middle school and high school teachers explored a couple of the engineering design activities in InVESTAgate, they did the “Expedition Asteroid Part 1: Landing on Vesta” and “Expedition Asteroid Part 2: Mining Vesta” activities. The teachers performed these hands-on activities themselves, followed up with a discussion of how it could be best used in their classrooms, and any adaptations that might need to be made for various grade levels/classrooms. Many of the teachers commented that they would take these activities and implement them back in their classes right away or were planning to incorporate them in future lesson plans later in the school year. This is a great series of activities that ties in problem solving, design/engineering practices, and astronomy content.

Teachers exploring the “Hole Story” crater activity. Credit: Keely Finkelstein

Teachers exploring the “Hole Story” crater activity. Credit: Keely Finkelstein

We just recently got together again on October 22nd, and during that meeting we shared the “The Hole Story” crater activity, created by Theresa Summer at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) for CosmoQuest. Many teachers appreciated the critical thinking, evidence and reasoning approach of this activity. They also liked the art/history aspects that are tied in as well. A number of teachers said this activity would be well suited for a back-to-school night as something to share with both students and parents/families. We also looked at the CosmoQuest Citizen Science Moon Mappers platform.

Stay tuned – we are developing more activities and materials, and will soon have them available here on our site!


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