Teaching The Seasons By Analyzing Data And Modelling

Evaluation and Astronomy Education Research
5th Shaw-IAU Workshop
Wednesday Nov. 29, 2023
UTC: 8:55 p.m. - 9:05 p.m.
Friday Dec. 1, 2023
UTC: 10:55 a.m. - 11:05 a.m.

The seasons is a concept in astronomy that is particularly difficult to understand. We propose to teach the seasons by prompting students to analyse day-to-day data (sunrise and sunset times and azimuth, height of the Sun at noon, length of day, etc.) for their location, and compare it with the same data for a location positioned at the same latitude in the Southern hemisphere. By modelling the reasons for seasons using concrete objects (a Styrofoam ball and a lamp), students will connect the apparent motion of the Sun with the inclination of Earth’s axis of rotation to the plane of the ecliptic. We will present the results of an experiment conducted with pre-service high school teachers enrolled in an astronomy teaching course, using a Seasons Concept Inventory as pre- and post-test.

About Pierre Chastenay

Pierre Chastenay holds a master’s degree in astrophysics from Université Laval in Québec City and a doctorate in science education from Université de Montréal. He is now a Full professor of science education at Université du Québec à Montréal, where his main research interests are science and astronomy education, and elementary teacher training. Previously, he was Director of Education at the Planétarium de Montréal for 25 years. In 2017, he was awarded the Qilak Award from the Canadian Astronomical Society and the Sanford-Fleming Medal from the Royal Canadian Institute for Science, recognizing his long and distinguished record of outstanding contributions to communicating astronomy and science to Canadians.