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Astronomy: Teachers

Astronomy Essentials for Teachers

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A great way to brush up on the basics of astronomy is Crash Course Astronomy from PBS Learning Media. This series of 10-12 minute videos covers everything from the solar system to galaxies to dark matter.

Review the definition and history of astronomy and space science.

Ask An Astronomer from Cornell University is a terrific place to explore questions about the universe and space science. You’ll find yourself wanting to spend significant time on this site! You may also want to direct serious students here. This site includes study questions for beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners.

Go to the Lunar and Planetary Society to find information for greater understanding of astronomy topics, written for a general audience.

Windows to the Universe is a great resource for both educator preparation and classroom use with students. Find everything you want to know about stars, galaxies, exoplanets, quasars and much more. For a historical overview, check out the Astronomy Timeline.

PBS Learning Media

PBS Learning Media offers the following collections, each full of videos, lessons, interactives and teaching resources:

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Seeing in the Dark is a terrific film about the joy of stargazing. Its website will take you to a variety of astronomy topics and ideas for exploring the night sky. Be sure to check out the accompanying Teachers Page, which is full of classroom activities to inspire young stargazers and bring astronomy alive for your students.

In Amateur Astronomers, middle school students can learn about telescopes, sky observation and the role of amateur astronomers. The Educator’s Guide includes background material, lesson ideas, and further resources.

Astronomy’s Biggest Stars is a humorous look at the history of astronomy, through a meeting of famous astronomers from Ptolemy to Kepler. This is part of the series Spaced Out: A Cosmic Scene, a series of video modules for middle-school students and teachers that introduces basic principles of physics and astronomy in an entertaining fashion.

Why is Galileo often referred to as the “father of modern astronomy?” He was the first person to study distant objects in the skies through a telescope, forever changing the study of astronomy. Learn about his pioneering discoveries in Galileo’s Telescope and Discovering Jupiter’s Moons.

Astronomy Resources from NASA

NASA has some great websites for kids that you can use in your classroom for both instruction and enrichment. These student sites contain content, games, interactives and activities. The accompanying teacher sites contain lesson plans, alignment with standards, and links to further NASA resources.

NASA STEM Engagement is a website designed to inspire and engage the next generation of explorers. Explore NASA’s terrific collection of STEM Resources for K-12 Educators. Search STEM materials for educators by grade level and resource type. You may also want to utilize STEM@Home for grades K-4 and grades 5-8.

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NASA/ESA/Hubble

NASA eClips is a collection of standards-based short videos specifically for educators to use in the classroom. Educator guides and interactive lessons provide suggestions for using the video segments as instructional tools.

Check out this A to Z List of NASA websites for Educators.

NASA’s Universe of Learning is a new integrated space science program with resources and experiences for youth, families, educators, and lifelong learners.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab offers a wealth of high-quality classroom activities that you can filter for grade level and topic.

NASA has a wonderful collection of space images that will fascinate your students. Don’t miss the Hubble Space Telescope Photo Gallery. For outstanding photos of the solar system, go to JPL’s Planetary Photo Journal.

Inspire your students with Tonight’s Sky, which shows young stargazers what they may see in the sky on any given date.

Constellations are fun for younger students to study. Legends in the Sky is a lesson about constellation tales from around the world.

Astronomy Lesson Plans

The Lunar and Planetary Institute offers hands-on space-science resources and activities for upper elementary and middle school classrooms.

Check out these complete lesson plans from Elementary School Science:

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McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas has standards-aligned lessons and engaging classroom activities for students in grades K-5 and 6-8.

Science NetLinks offers 29 complete lesson plans on astronomy topics for grades K-12. Take a look at Star Search for grades 1-2, Looking At The Night Sky for grades 3-5, or Looking Into Space for grades 6-8.

Take a look at these ideas for teaching astronomy from a longtime classroom teacher.

You'll find lots of astronomy lesson plan links for middle school at The Science Spot.

Eyes on the Sky, Feet On the Ground features hands-on astronomy activities that you can use in your classroom.

In History of the Universe: Creating Timelines, students combine astronomy and math knowledge as they scale major events in the history of the universe to a recognizable time scale.

Try some of these hands-on classroom space activities compiled by StemWorks, designed for beginners to advanced students.

Students can create a comet, a spaceship or a moon colony with these classroom activities from ScienceKids.

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific offers sixteen K-12 Educational Activities for you to use with your students.

More Resources for Educators

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Adler Planetarium in Chicago has elementary school resources and middle school resources for classroom teachers.

You may want to check out Reach: A Space Podcast for Kids in which children’s questions are answered by scientists and astronauts.

Check out this compilation of astronomy websites, apps, online tools and electronic picture books available for school use.

The Smithsonian Institute offers several classroom resources: Sizing Up The Universe interactive, National Museum of Natural History teaching resources, and Highlights Collection: Astronomy Learning Resources.

In addition to the NASA student websites, here are more kids’ astronomy websites to share with your students:

Introduce your students to the importance of women in astronomy and space sciences with Women in Astronomy, She Is An Astronomer, or Women Paving the Way to Mars.

Find hands-on astronomy experiments from the Center for Science Education at University of California-Berkeley.

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