STaRS: Space science Teaching and Resource Site

Glen Mackie, PASA, 17 (2), 113.

Next Section: STaRS Topical Astronomy and
Title/Abstract Page: STaRS: Space science Teaching
Previous Section: Introduction
Contents Page: Volume 17, Number 2


STaRS Astronomy Activities and Investigations for 8 to
12 year olds

The STaRS Web site comprised two main sections. The first section, Astronomy for 8-12 year olds offers links to both astronomy activities and resources.

General Considerations

The presentation of astronomy activities on the Web benefits from extra thought than in the case of more standard activities used in classes. The Web is of course viewable outside of class by students and non-students. It is therefore important to include activities that can be done outside of the classroom and class times. The most obvious are activities based on nightime observing. As well, STaRS will be accessed by students without teacher supervision, hence all information and activities should be clearly stated and easy to perform. Whilst STaRS activities are aimed at an 8-12 year old audience it was also important to offer activities at higher levels to challenge students (and others) and encourage extra investigation and resource work.

Information for Teachers

Several important pieces of information are stated in STaRS to help teachers prepare astronomy activities from the Web. Teachers will have a wide range of experience with the Web so basic information is necessary. a) Internet access is not always available (eg. host site down; Internet provider is offline). We therefore advise teachers to download information prior to class time. b) Resources may require specialist software for viewing or printing. For example, some publications in STaRS are in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, requiring the teacher to firstly download the Adobe reader. c) Time estimates for activities are provided by STaRS where possible to help the teacher prepare their classroom schedule.

Local and International Resources

Although the possibility of losing a user from a locally developed Web page to a non-local page exists, STaRS was developed with the primary idea of providing the best available Web education resources irrespective of resource origin. With that in mind certain cautionary information had to be stated. Southern hemisphere users, when linking to sites developed in the northern hemisphere could be shown representations (images, diagrams) of objects that would be inverted to the way they are seen in the south. To illustrate this difference STaRS provides an example of the way the well known Orion constellation is viewed from both the southern and northern hemispheres. An upside-down sun icon is used in STaRS to identify northern hemisphere sites (and highlight the southern-centric origin of STaRS !).

Utilizing the Web

Information presented on the Web should take advantage of its dynamic nature and its ability to provide quality imagery. Activities in STaRS are updated or are relevant to current astronomical events (eg. comets, meteor showers, eclipses), present or planned telescopes, planetary and other solar system missions. High resolution, colour images (eg. from Hubble Space Telecope, Anglo-Australian Telescope, Apollo missions, Voyager) are used to illustrate Web pages and can sometimes be a more powerful educational tool than the equivalent amount of text. Images are also provided to illustrate the STaRS activities developed by Carter Observatory. STaRS also connects many of its locally developed resource pages (including astronomical questions and answers at the 8-12 year old level) via hyperlinks, back to its activities, to promote the activities and integrate the Web site.

An Activity example: Solar System Quiz

A locally designed activity, Solar System Quiz has been linked with a well known planetary Web site, The Nine Planets. Solar System Quiz presents an activity based on image indentification of Solar System objects. Sub-images (of larger, complete images) of twelve solar system objects are shown along with a list of their names to choose from. The investigators are asked to assign an object name with each sub-image. Once this is completed, a second Web page is accessed showing the answers and the whole images. Students are encouraged to perform this activity before and after visiting The Nine Planets.
Next Section: STaRS Topical Astronomy and
Title/Abstract Page: STaRS: Space science Teaching
Previous Section: Introduction
Contents Page: Volume 17, Number 2

Welcome... About Electronic PASA... Instructions to Authors
ASA Home Page... CSIRO Publishing PASA
Browse Articles HOME Search Articles
© Copyright Astronomical Society of Australia 1997