International body to open center to streamline astronomy education at school level in India

To strengthen efforts to support astronomy education around the world, the International Astronomical Union has announced the creation of four new centers in its Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) global network. OAE Center India will be operated by the Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, an autonomous institution under the University Grants Commission, in association with the Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bombay.

Work in this new center will focus on astronomy teaching methods and assessment tools for middle and high school students and teachers, as well as linguistic inclusivity. “While the astronomy community has collectively created a large number of educational resources over the past few years, there is a need for standardized tools and protocols to assess the quality and impact value of these resources, as well as those of teacher training programs that are currently being conducted,” said Somak Raychaudhury, Director of IUCAA

“The OAE center in India will strive to develop these tools and protocols, and also design new training modules and structures based on such assessment. The activities of the center will impact the teaching of astronomy in Indian schools and classrooms internationally. It is also playing a leading role in future astronomy projects such as the Thirty Meter Telescope, LIGO-India and several Indian space astronomy missions.

“Understanding teachers’ beliefs, skills, and confidence levels in teaching astronomy in the classroom will be key to redesigning teacher training programs. It will also help refine the material for the astronomy program,” said IUCAA’s Surhud More. “Our center will create assessment rubrics not only for student learning, but also to improve the clarity of teaching materials and the effectiveness of teacher training programs.”

“The center will also work on formal research into astronomy education at school level. The cognitive landscape, related to astronomy, in the minds of students would be systematically investigated by developing tools such as concept inventories. At the same time, creating astronomical concept maps will lead to a better understanding of learning trajectories,” said Aniket Sule of the Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education.

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