Problem: To determine the extent of astronomy teaching in Palestinian schools, we conducted a virtual survey of 5 schools (2 elementary (1-6) and 3 secondary schools (9-11)) teachers, and we invited some of them to participate in the Palestine Astrophysics Program (PAP) between July 2022 to May 2023. With online meetings and classroom visits, we wanted to find out how these elementary and secondary teachers teach astronomy (or not) to their classrooms, what is their background in Science & Technology (S&T), what pre-service education they received, the challenges they have to teach astronomy, the resources and materials they have at their disposal, their perception of the effectiveness of pre-and in-service training they received, and their perceived needs for in-service training. Significant hurdles to teaching astronomy provided by teachers in our survey are:
• A lack of experience and training in astronomy.
• A lack of resources and equipment.
• Inadequate classroom arrangement.
• Their self-perceived incompetence in astronomy.
Proposed solution and activities: A Teachers Training Program for Astronomy Education
The project will take all of the online lectures (15) produced by PAP and reproduce them in a format suitable for classroom lessons. Additionally, supplementary material will accompany the reformatted lectures as a teacher’s guide.
To supplement the traditional classroom teaching, it will improve the teaching of astronomy and physical sciences by linking PAP Advisory Board and professional and amateur astronomers in the Arab World with local science teachers. Each astronomer is matched with 2 or 3 educators in a one-on-one partnership and commits to virtually visiting the educator’s students at least four times during the school year. Over 100 active educator-astronomer partnerships will bring the excitement of scientific discovery through astronomy to over 2,000 Palestinian students annually.
It aims to teach teachers best practices in classroom astronomy education through workshops and online training tools. We will have in-person training workshops on the material and hands-on activities for each district within the Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza). Additionally, we will train teachers on using and participating in virtual observatories.
REQUIREMENTS AND/OR PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE REQUIRED Primary school teachers, secondary school teachers of any school (science teachers) It is not necessarily prior knowledge of astronomy.
PARTICIPANTS AND INSTRUCTORS Participants will be between 40 and 50 teachers in primary and other 50 teachers in secondary education hosted at local university. We already have agreements in place with local universities to work with us on the project, they will provide large classrooms and all other logistics needed for the program.