Physics Department and Noyce Program Host Astronomy Education Lecture and Reception October 17

Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on October 12, 2011 12:55 PM

illustration of telescope

The Physics Department at SSU has invited physicist Dr. Ed Prather to speak about Astronomy Education as part of their on-going "What Physicists Do Lecture Series" on Monday, October 17, 4:00 PM in Darwin 103. The event is open to the community.

Dr. Prather is an Associate Professor at Steward Observatory, and the Department of Astronomy, at the University of Arizona and is Executive Director of the NASA and NSF funded Center for Astronomy Education (CAE) at the University of Arizona. He has led several research programs to investigate students' conceptual and reasoning difficulties in the areas of astronomy, astrobiology, physics, and planetary science. The results from this research have been used to inform the development of innovative instructional strategies proven to intellectually engage learners and significantly improve their understanding of fundamental space science concepts.

Over the past decade members of the Center for Astronomy Education (CAE) at the University of Arizona have worked closely with hundreds of college instructors, postdocs, graduate students, and undergrads on collaborative projects designed to understand issues of teaching and learning in college-level gen. ed. college Earth, Astronomy and Space Science courses (EASS). The results from these collaborations have been used to transform traditional lecture-based classrooms into learning environments shown to significantly impact learners' science literacy and engagement in STEM. The recent national study his team completed, involving nearly 4000 students at 31 institutions around the United States, reveals dramatic improvement in student learning with increased use of interactive learning strategies. In addition, the study revealed positive effects of interactive learning strategies apply equally to men and women, across ethnicities, for students with all levels of prior mathematical preparation and physical science course experience, independent of GPA, and regardless of primary language. These results powerfully illustrate that all categories of students can benefit from the effective implementation of interactive learning strategies.

Future Science and Mathematics Educators

The Noyce Scholarship program will host a reception in the lobby of Darwin Hall immediately after Dr. Prather's presentation. Sonoma State University's Noyce Scholars, all of whom are on track to become mathematics or science teachers in the School of Education Single Subject Credential Program, will attend Monday's lecture.

Noyce logo

The Noyce Scholarship Program is a collaboration between the School of Science and Technology and the School of Education at SSU, providing support for future math and science teachers. Each Noyce Scholar receives a maximum of three years of scholarship support of up to $10,000 per year. In addition, Sonoma State provides support to the scholars throughout the period covered by the scholarships and up to two years after to assist the scholars to reach their goal of a credential and a teaching position. For more information about the Noyce Scholarship Program see