Project STAR: Teacher-to-Teacher Series

Eight short video programs for teacher professional development .

As the "oldest science," and one which is offered as an elective in many schools, astronomy intersects with many students' interests. Project STAR (which stands for Science Teaching Through its Astronomical Roots) was funded by the National Science Foundation to enhance student understanding of key concepts in pre-college science and mathematics through hands-on astronomy activities. This series of short videos serves to introduce teachers to the activities in the first edition of the textbook, Project STAR: The Universe in Your Hands, ISBN-0840377150. The producer/videographer, Alex Griswold, visited real-life classrooms to document how the materials were being used, and used teachers' own voices and experiences as candid supplements to the curriculum guide and other written materials.

Program guides and supporting materials available to purchase from the publisher's website.

Produced by:
Harvard College Observatory
with funding from National Science Foundation - Award# EHR-8550297

1. Introduction: Philip M. Sadler, Project Director
Introduction to the curriculum and the activities, with emphasis on the hands-on nature of the activies, the use of free or inexpensive materials, and the importance of having students record their predictions before they perform the activity. Dr. Sadler makes the case that only by having students re-examine their original ideas, in contrast to their new experiences, will they be able to replace some of their previous misconceptions with scientifically-based understandings.
2. Keeping a Journal of the Sun's Apparent Motion
Students go outside at or near sunset over a period of three weeks in the spring or fall to record how the time and location of sunset changes from day to day. Polly Vanesse, Brook Academy.
3. Plotting the Apparent Daily Motion of the Sun
Using a plastic hemisphere as recording device, the location of the sun in the sky is recorded over several hours on one or more days. Gita Hakerem.
4. Building a Celestial Sphere
Using two plastic hemispheres, students create a model of the sky that can be used to make predictions about the apparent locations of the Sun and stars during different times of the year. Russell Blake.
5. Estimating Size and Distance
An introduction to how astronomers use angular size to estimate distances with trigonometry. Gita Hakerem
6. Judging Brightness at Various Distances
Using a simple apparatus to compare brightness from two light sources, students begin to develop experience with the inverse square law. Jeff Lane.
7. Building and Using a Pinhole Tube
Using a pinhole tube to safely observe the Sun and measure its angular size. Mark Petricone.
8. Building and Using an Astronomical Telescope
Using in-expensive lenses and other components, students build and test a telescope on the same design as Galileo's 1609 telescope. Mark Petricone.

Copyright (c) 1992 President and Fellows of Harvard College