Developing Transferrable Spatial Thinking And Vocabulary Skills Through Astronomy Education

Astronomy education research on the role of astronomy in schools
4th Shaw-IAU Workshop
Tuesday Nov. 15, 2022
UTC: 8 p.m. - 8:15 p.m.
Wednesday Nov. 16, 2022
UTC: noon - 12:15 p.m.

Research has shown the importance of spatial thinking in STEM fields in general and astronomy specifically. Spatial thinking skills have also been shown to be transferrable. Since astronomy topics such as the moon phases or daily celestial motion are accessible to everyone, this is an ideal topic with which students can engage and learn or practice spatial thinking skills that can be useful in astronomy as well as across and beyond STEM fields. I will share recent research showing how implementing a spatially-rich, lunar phases-focused curriculum improves both student understanding of moon phases as well as spatial thinking ability. Additionally, this curriculum has been shown to improve students’ scientific vocabulary more than a typical astronomy curriculum used as a comparison.

About Merryn Cole

Merryn Cole is an Assistant Professor of Science Education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She previously completed her PhD in STEM Education at the University of Kentucky. Her research interests include the role of spatial thinking in STEM content areas, particularly in project-based environments. She is also interested in the training, motivations, and identity of science/STEM outreach and/or informal science/STEM practitioners.