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Teaching Teachers How To Teach Science: i-STEM 2022

At two of i-STEM’s six events this month, the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve STEM Network’s professional educators and members of the AstroTAC team were privileged to host a strand about Earth’s Place in the Universe, a subject focusing on Earth and space science. Our goals were to show these teachers how to “do” science and help them teach it.

AstroTAC’s Ciera Partyka-Worley explaining the materials in the kits that each CWI participant was given to use in their classrooms.

We got to hear from The Edutainment Teacher, Todd Beard, who showed us how much more effective learning can be when students are entertained by the activities and content. Dr. Brian Jackson, CIDSRSN’s program director, taught us more about the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve and our program’s role in our community. Joshua Snideman, Vice President of Learning Blade, showed us the incredible resource that the Learning Blade program provides, and how beneficial it can be to let students get exposure to the different contexts of STEM. Guinness World Record Holder, David Rush, gave a presentation about “failing forward” and never giving up, then proceeded to juggle knives while standing on a balance board.

Learning Blade’s Vice President, Joshua Snider, showing the resource fliers that every i-STEM participant got to take for their classrooms.

Our educators participated in science activities like building a sundial with a plunger, designing light fixtures to reduce light pollution, and exploring the virtual stargazing app, Stellarium. At the CSI i-STEM institute, we were able to go on a field trip to the Faulkner planetarium and Centennial Observatory, which holds the largest telescope in the state of Idaho. There we learned that certain objects in the sky are visible during the day, such as Sirius and Venus.

Astronomer Chris Anderson, looking through the telescope to make sure the image is clear.

At CWI’s institute we were able to see a custom show at the College of Idaho’s Whittenberger planetarium. The director was kind enough to put together a presentation that wrapped up all of the concepts we had been learning throughout the week about Earth’s Place in the Universe.

College of Southern Idaho’s Whittenberger planetarium projector. Only 100 of these models were made by Spitz.

Of course, we had to bring our mobile planetarium to show our participants what AstroTAC can bring to their classrooms. Among other shows, we showed our favorite presentation, “Following Perseverance to Mars”.

Our portable planetarium set up in one of CWI’s classrooms, showing a light pollution presentation.

We are so excited to participate in next year’s i-STEM Institutes, and we hope to see you there!

For more information on i-STEM Institutes, you can visit the Idaho STEM Action Center’s website. Additionally, CSI’s institute was covered by KMVT 11, and CWI’s institute was featured in the Idaho Press.