ASTRO is a national program creating partnerships between
teachers and students in grades 4 - 9 with amateur and professional
astronomers. The project was created in 1993 by the Astronomical Society of the
Pacific and funded by the National Science Foundation and
To date there are nine Project ASTRO
National Expansion Sites, including Project ASTRO
Project ASTRO UTAH is
co-sponsored by the Clark Foundation
Planetarium. The project encourages collaboration among
Utah universities, aerospace businesses, astronomy clubs,
planetariums, and Utah schools. The Clark Foundation is deeply
grateful to the members of the Project ASTRO UTAH Coalition for
their generous commitment of resources and staff.
Project ASTRO UTAH's goal is to enhance the core
science curriculum for Utah sixth-grade students, the
grade level in which students receive their first serious introduction
In the 1998-99 school year, 29 teams of astronomers and teachers
are participating in Project ASTRO UTAH in fourteen Utah school districts. The
Utah State Office of
Education provides invaluable assistance in selecting the
participating schools and teachers for the project.
Project ASTRO teachers and astronomers receive two days of
intensive training with their partners. At these training workshops,
each team receives a variety of teaching resources, including an
extensive collection of classroom activity guides, videotapes,
computer software, slides and posters.
Each astronomer makes a minimum of four visits to the
teacher-partner's class during the school year. During these visits,
the teacher and astronomer cooperate to present an astronomy activity
using the materials provided during their training workshop. Often,
astronomers and teachers will arrange field trips for the class to a
planetarium or an evening "star party" either at an observatory or
using telescopes brought to the school.
Prior to their first visit, astronomer-partners often visit with
"their" class as an observer, just to get a feel for the classroom
dynamics and the communication and discipline style of their
teacher-partner. Students are not told that the visitor is "their"
astronomer until the first working visit by the astronomer to the
An important feature of Project ASTRO is that through multiple
visits with them, students get to know their astronomer as a "regular
person." They see that people who pursue astronomy, either as a career
or hobby, are not the one-dimensional stereotypes shown in movies or
Often, the first Project ASTRO activity teachers give their
students is to ask them to draw a picture of what they think "their"
astronomer will look like prior to his/her first visit with the
class. The results are as revealing as they are
entertaining. Here's an