1. Anna Hurst
  2. Director of Museum, Park, & Library Programs
  4. Astronomical Society of the Pacific
  1. Maureen Callanan
  2. Professor
  4. University of California Santa Cruz
  1. Jennifer Jipson
  2. Professor
  4. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  1. Sasha Palmquist
  2. Senior Researcher
  4. Institute for Learning Innovation
  1. Julia Plummer
  2. Associate Professor of Education
  4. Pennsylvania State University

My Sky Tonight: Early Childhood Pathways to Astronomy

NSF Awards: 1217441

2018 (see original presentation & discussion)

Informal / multi-age

My Sky Tonight: Early Childhood Pathways to Astronomy is a National Science Foundation funded project exploring astronomy understanding and interest in 3- to 5-year-old children, and developing toolkits to support informal educators in their astronomy explorations with preschool aged children. The My Sky Tonight partnership integrates research with practice; co-PIs include both researchers and astronomy educators.

The major focus is on providing professional development for informal STEM educators and creating astronomy activities for the preschool age group. The development of our My Sky Tonight toolkit activities was grounded in two goals: encouraging children to engage in science practices, and guiding educators to take a developmentally appropriate approach when working with young children.

We have also advanced the knowledge base in early STEM learning through a series of studies exploring facilitation of science practices in workshop settings, as well as everyday conversations about nature between 3- to 5-year-old children and their parents. Young children’s interest in astronomy was evident -- astronomy was one of the three most frequent topics of family conversations.

Though we are nearing the end of our NSF funding, the MST team is excited to continue working together. We recently obtained supplementary funding to further investigate the role of using storybooks to support young children’s engagement in the practices of science, particularly within the context of our science-rich MST astronomy activities. 

To access My Sky Tonight activities and resources, see the materials in action, and learn more about the program, visit: www.astrosociety.org/MySkyTonight

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