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York University: Teaching Astronomy through Hands-On Activities Summer 2015

Ryan Thompson, OAPT Treasurer, Physics Teacher, Newmarket HS


On July 8 and 9th I attended a two day workshop at York University. The purpose of the workshop was to bring astronomy professors and graduate students together with teachers and showcase three modules that the organizers had developed for the teachers to discuss, play with and refine for use in the classroom. The organizers were from a variety of institutions, not just York but everyone was committed to increasing interest in astronomy in students and also their capability for understanding the science around this fascinating topic.

The three modules were:
  • The detecting of Extra-Solar Planets
  • Cosmology
  • Black Holes and Gravitational Lensing

These modules will slide nicely into an Earth Space Science course and with a little modification, the grade 9 space unit (with less modification for enriched students). But with a little courage, these also could go into physics and grade 10 if only to support and role model the inquiry process. They are available at http://goo.gl/41cJ1a and are being tweaked based on comments from the workshop.

I have already started modifying them for my own classes and will report back on my experiences after trying them in my classes. A big thank you to Paola Rodriguez and her team for organizing this workshop, establishing a colloquial forum for learning and for volunteering their time then and in the future to this worthwhile cause.

If this workshop is run again, I strongly encourage you to sign up.

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