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Project ASTRO: Impact of Project Astro

Before receiving funding for its national expansion program, Project ASTRO had intensive studies conducted of its pilot project. These studies showed that the pilot was a successful model for bringing astronomers and their expertise into schools and other educational settings. Detail: Structure and Scope

Both astronomers and teachers surveyed said that their knowledge of strategies for effectively teaching astronomy had increased: astronomers felt that they knew much more about student learning;and teachers felt that their content knowledge had increased.

The studies indicated that commitment and follow-through by astronomers and teachers was strong: 13% of astronomers visited their schools and worked with their teacher-partners more than 10 times over the course of a year; 26% visited 5-10 times; 26% visited four times; and 15% visited less than four times.

Project ASTRO also had a positive impact on teachers: 91% of teachers felt that they were teaching more astronomy as a result of ASTRO, and 48% felt that they were teaching more science as a result of ASTRO.

A follow-up survey found that 62% of the pilot astronomer-teacher teams had continued their partnership one to two years later. And, more than 90% of teachers and astronomers said that they planned to continue their involvement with astronomy education in some other way.

Attempts to pinpoint what aspects of Project ASTRO contributed to successful partnerships indicated the following:

  • Partners making a commitment and having sufficient time
  • The intense focus on one or two classes of students rather than a whole school
  • The time that was taken by partners to plan in advance
  • The care excercised in locating schools with good administrative support
  • The partners' focusing of their mutual goals across the visits and during each visit
  • Having one partner with a clear vision of how best to fit the astronomy activities into the curriculum
  • How efforts are made to include the community, such as local amateur astronomers, planetariums, and/or science centers
  • The use of active, hands-on learning

Many of these factors are discussed in greater depth in the Project ASTRO How-To Manual for Astronomers and Teachers. Detail: Supporting Materials

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