ASTRONOMY: Eliciting Student Ideas

Program 1 from The Private Universe Project Workshop Series

Schneps, Matthew H., Producer, Director
Annenberg Foundation/Corporation for Public Broadcasting Math and Science Project
1995, President and Fellows of Harvard College

This 90-minute video includes student interviews about astronomy, discussion of issues the students raise, and strategies for effective teaching. Interviews with Harvard graduates and faculty show that they are confused about what causes the seasons. We also see Heather, an articulate, intelligent high-school student, who has a great many ideas about astronomy. Interviews with Heather both before and after her classroom lessons about astronomy reveal that she has learned much but is still confused about some key aspects of the subject. Although some of Heather's ideas after instruction are solid, others are inconsistent with accepted scientific ideas. Some of her ideas stubbornly resist change, both in the classroom and during on-camera challenges.