A Successful Integration of Astronomy into an Elementary School Curriculum

P.N. Romani (NASA - Goddard Space Flight Center), K. Hackett, T. Jackson, S. Melzer, S. Edwards, F. Moore (Glenarden Woods Elementary School)

Fifth and sixth grade students at Glenarden Woods Elementary Magnet School for Talented and Gifted (TAG) Students, Glenarden, Maryland studied Europe in the Medieval time period this year in a thematic unit that involved language arts, social studies, and art. We used this as a vehicle to incorporate math and science projects involving astronomy into the curriculum. In this way, we could integrate science into the thematic unit rather than having math and science be divorced from what the students were doing in the other subject areas. For the first project we studied the claims of astrology. This was chosen because during the Medieval time period astronomy and astrology were closely linked. We then took advantage of Comet Hale-Bopp to compare what people in the Medieval time period thought/knew about comets to what we believe now. For this unit we stretched the middle ages to include a demonstration of how Tycho proved that the comet of 1577 was further from the Earth than the Moon. Lastly, we did a short lesson plan on sundials. We will present details of the projects and lessons learned.