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Galileo Educator Network

The Galileo Educator Network developed the skills and knowledge necessary for educators to conduct their own Galileo Teacher Training Program workshops for teachers in their local areas. We encourage fellow educators wishing to build their leadership and professional development delivery skills to attend the Summer Astronomy Institute, an immersive experience in best practices in space science content instruction. For additional information, visit the K-12 Educators page.

Project History

The NASA Galileo Educator Network (GEN) was a NASA-funded teacher professional development program managed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Partner organizations included the New Jersey Astronomy Center (NJACE) at Raritan Valley College, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Tucson, Arizona, and the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA). Project ASTRO National Network sites in Boulder, Colorado, San Diego, California, West Chester, Pennsylvania, and Cincinnati, Ohio wee also involved in piloting the program.

GEN grew out of the Galileo Teacher Training Program (GTTP), a heritage program of the International Year of Astronomy in 2009. The GEN program created professional development nationwide with the primary goals to:

  • Help teacher educators and teacher professional development providers engage and educate teachers of astronomy (and general science,) especially in grades 3-9, using effective instructional strategies and educational resources, with engaging and inspiring content.
  • Promote the effective use of NASA-developed and NASA-supported resources by teacher educators and teacher professional development providers, through integration of astronomy/space science content with Galileo-inspired science inquiry and exploration.

GEN professional development had four basic and common elements adapted from GTTP:

  • Galileo-related activities, examining astronomy content and/or science inquiry. This involved activities recreating or exploring Galileo’s observations of Jupiter’s moons, Venus’ phases, the Sun’s spots, or the Moon’s craters. In this context learners (teachers or students) experienced a hands-on, inquiry-based approach to scientific investigation, illustrating the process of science. GEN addressed the nature and practices of science directly, influenced by the NRC report Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8 (2007).
  • NASA-developed and NASA-supported resources and science content. In GTTP, this workshop element was about using IYA-related resources, such as Galileoscopes. But for GEN, this became NASA resources and content. This included NASA education and mission specific resources, as well as NASA-supported resources included in The Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0 DVD-ROM. This compilation includes approximately 50 classroom activities developed with NASA support, plus several contributed background articles from NASA personnel.
  • Fundamental concepts to meet curriculum goals. In GTTP workshops, this element enabled flexibility with workshop design, and yet allowed a focus on core concepts and ideas that students (and their teachers) need to tackle. This same principle carried over into GEN professional development efforts. Examples of fundamental concepts include: scale (size, distance, and time,) phases of the Moon, motions of the Sun and Earth, seasons, the nature of science, etc.
  • Resources adaptable for use in the classroom. GTTP workshops benefitted from flexibility, integrating various educational resources from NASA and elsewhere, with the overriding objective to feature useful resources for the classroom. GEN focused on NASA-supported resources while enabling exploration of additional resources. These additional resources included those developed by GEN partners and leveraged local assets to serve the needs of their teacher communities. One featured NASA-supported resource was the Windows to the Universe website, now administered by NESTA. Other resources important in GEN professional development included unique local resources each site may have access to, such as planetarium programs, exhibits, staff astronomers, etc.

In 2012 and 2013, GEN partners held Professional Development Institutes (GEN PDI) for teacher educators and professional developers in a “train the trainer” model, giving them the tools to conduct their own GEN workshop for classroom teachers in their own communities. Participants in a GEN PDI have been certified as Galileo Educator Fellows. Teachers who participated in a 15-hour GEN teacher’s workshop became Galileo Educators.