Teaching and learning geometric optics in middle school through the Turning Eyes to the Big Sky project
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The Turning Eyes to the Big Sky project offered schools in southwestern Montana a unique opportunity to strengthen science instruction. The project implemented, in a formal setting, a nationally established informal science curriculum on light and optics, the Hands-on Optics Terrific Telescopes curriculum. Terrific Telescopes was implemented in eight middle-school classrooms and reached 166 students during the 2010 to 2011 school year. As part of the project, we conducted a teacher workshop and assessed student learning outcomes and teachers’ experiences with the curriculum. The goals of our assessments were to improve our understanding of how students learn key optics-related principles, provide evidence of the learning outcomes of Terrific Telescopes, and find out how teachers adapt the curriculum for use in formal settings. Our research established that students in every classroom learned optics concepts, uncovered student ideas about telescope optics, and identified ways to support and supplement the curriculum for use in classrooms.
M. J. Leonard, R. M. Hannahoe, G. E. Nollmeyer, and J. A. Shaw, â€œTeaching and learning geometric optics in middle school through the Turning Eyes to the Big Sky project,â€� Opt. Eng. 52(6), 069001 (2013).