Integrating Planetarium and Classroom Instruction to Engage
Children in the Practices of Science
Children should be learning how to engage in science practices in ways that reflect the domain-specific nature of learning to “do science.” Our work explores methods for engaging children in science practices in astronomy, such as developing representations and models, using evidence, and organizing observations into patterns. We used research literature on learning in formal and informal environments to develop learning environment design principles that integrate classroom and planetarium instruction. These were used to develop an intervention for first-grade students. Children first participated in an anticipatory lesson in their classroom. They next visited the planetarium, where they were engaged in a modular planetarium design program that
mixed live interaction with video sequences. Finally, children applied what they learned as they engaged in activities in their classroom. Initial analysis of interviews conducted with children before and after instruction suggest the intervention was successful in
improving students’ reasoning about the Moon and illustrates successful methods of integrating a field trip with a classroom-based lesson.