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Teachers Look Up

Carter Observatory

The National Observatory of New Zealand

Teachers Look Up

Astronomy is becoming sexy in schools.

There is a growing interest in astronomy in classrooms throughout New Zealand.

Science teachers find they can build upon the exciting developments that young people see on television and they want to capitalise on this.

Discussions are underway to establish a National Certificate in Astronomy. This would be a formal NZQA qualification that students would get early in year 11. It would involve astronomy courses and success in mathematics and humanities courses. The Certificate is also seen as a vehicle to reward students who might not ordinarily be interested in science and technology.

Ten secondary teachers from around the country took part in an educational in-service day at Wellington’s Carter Observatory on April 28 and heard presentations on the National Certificate and a wide range of astronomy topics.

National Observatory spokesperson Robert Shaw said “New Zealand is desperately short of physics teachers, and even our physics teachers are unlikely to have astronomy in their degrees”

“The Observatory is working to improve the quality of physics teaching and is getting a great response in this from teachers”.

Key presentations were by Bill MacIntyre from Massey University who described the use of 3-D models in the physics classroom.

Mathematics professor Matt Visser, from Victoria University, who gave a non-technical introduction to Black Holes with emphasis on general topics to interest secondary students.

Secondary teachers attending were:

Terry Meldrum from Palmerston North Boys High School
Andrea Dixon from Waimea College, Nelson
Kirsty Farrant from Newlands College, Wellington
Rachel Garrett from Greymouth High School
Dave McDonald from Cashmere High School, Christchurch
Susanne Hartl from Burnside High School, Christchurch
Graeme Richardson from Paraparaumu College
Gary Sparks from Napier Planetarium
Tony Lewis from Horowhenua College, Levin
Stephen Dorey from Buller High School


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