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Students Doing Astronomy Like Astronomers: Teaching Astronomy Through Observation and Modelling

How do young people learn science? What to do about their naïve conceptions? How can we better support them in learning scientific concepts? These are some of the questions that will be addressed in this colloquium, which will focus more specifically on teaching basic astronomical concepts in elementary school. The contributions of the history and epistemology of science to the development of new approaches to teaching concepts such as moon phases and seasons will be discussed. We will describe how astronomy is currently taught in our schools, with what tools and with what results. We will propose a new teaching approach that promotes systematic sky observation by students, note taking, analysis and modelling of a phenomenon such as the phases of the Moon, and will present the results of testing this approach with students aged 10 to 14 years old and their teachers. Finally, we will emphasize the importance of spatial skills, especially perspective-taking, for understanding the mechanisms underlying common astronomical phenomena.

Cody Hall, AB 107, University of Toronto

Pierre Chastenay, UQAM

January 15, 2020
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm