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New Practical Astronomy Activities in French Education (Abstract)

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Jean Ripert
Josée Sert

The European Association for Astronomy Education, France

A new curriculum in physics is being introduced gradually in French schools (Collège and Lycée, i.e., Junior High and High School, respectively). The main topics concern gravity and light. Astronomy fits quite well the general view that the teaching of experimental sciences must involve more experiments and/or observations. In this context, the French Astronomers-Teachers Joint Committee (CLEA: Comité de Liaison Enseignants-Astronomes) is in the forefront of developing and publishing examples of practical activities. Its Research Group for the Teaching of Astronomy has developed, tested, and then published various materials, including Activity Files, sets of slides, and overhead transparencies. Several of these items are now available in English, with two of them also translated into Spanish and one into Polish. Some activities will be presented--for example, the study of the movement of sunspots observed and mapped over several days in order to deduce the Sun's rotational period; the study of the spectrum of a star illustrating how to derive the chemical composition of stars from spectral analysis; the retrograde motion of Mars investigated from a set of slides; phases of the Moon for 12-13-year-old pupils; the orbit of the Moon and its characteristics from photos taken throughout a lunar cycle; the equivalent descriptions by Ptolemy and Copernicus of the movements of celestial objects. Some software will be presented as well.

Link to article on ADS

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