The DCU FRONTIERS team facilitated online workshops on 24th March and 29th April for post-primary Science teachers in Ireland. The workshops demonstrated learning activities to support the teaching of Exoplanets and develop skills of graph analysis and scientific investigations.
The workshop lasted for up to one hour and during this time the Discovery of an Exoplanet demonstrator was unpacked and taught to teachers. Videos and online tools such as Edpuzzle enabled teachers to engage with the practical aspects of the demonstrator. Teachers demonstrated an interest in the Google Science Journal data collection software, which can be used on mobile or tablet technology in the classroom.
The workshop demonstrated two activities that support students to develop their understanding of how exoplanets are detected. The first activity challenges students to form their own light curves using simple materials. This activity was supported by a worksheet requiring students to question their results. Teachers reflected on the benefit of simple apps and tools for data collection and acknowledged the benefit of the worksheet to support higher order thinking. The second activity focuses on further developing students’ understanding of light curves. To participate in the activity teachers worked in groups, using the online breakout rooms, with each group focusing on a separate task. These groups gave teachers an opportunity to engage with others while discussing the task and the demonstrator as a whole. The teachers then gave feedback on their task to the entire group.
Feedback from the participants indicated that the workshop was very relevant to their needs and it helped to develop further confidence in the topic. They noted that the online workshop motivated them to further explore Nobel Prize Physics with a view to integrating it into the science lessons. The main barrier to the implementation of the demonstrators that was mentioned by teachers was a lack of access to data collection technology in the classroom. Teachers were provided with a detailed pack of resources, including worksheets, videos and PowerPoint slides that they could implement in their online or in-situ lessons.
Further online workshops will be organised by the FRONTIERS project team at a national and international level.