Astronomy is a good way to get children interested in STEM subjects. The majority of grade school age children are interested in space, planets and stars.
Astronomy can be a difficult subject to teach because most college curricula does not cover astronomy so that the teacher has to learn the subject along with the students. Also, some of the students will have knowledge beyond the scope of the teaching materials that was gained from TV and the internet.
Here are some resources that could help the teacher.
To answer questions, the best approach is to input the question to Google or Bing. Just check the source of the answer you get. NASA, ESA, or university websites are great as well of numerous sites maintained by astronomers. Just avoid any sites having to do with Astrology or conspiracies.
The following sites are excellent sources of educatonal material and projects.
The Astronomical Society of the Pacific provides a treasure trove of educational material and school projects related to astronomy. They also support Project Astro and Night Sky Network (see below).
The Night Sky Network is a resource is meant for astronomy clubs that provides lesson plans, instructional videos, presentations and materials for a vast array of astronomy subjects. They provide these materials free to anybody who requests them. Go to the website and choose “OUTREACH RESOURCES” where you will find a search engine that will lead you to the teaching materials. The materials are all free.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). One of NASA’s missions is to provide outreach to the non-astronomer community. They provide extensive educational resources for every level of from K-4 to college.
The space place is a NASA site designed to provide information for teachers and students. The themes are lighthearted with extensive use of cartoon like illustrations. It is a good place to search for answers about space and the results include articles, videos and images geared to a non-technical audience. It also has a number of suggested projects that can be used to help students understand astronomy and space.
This is a great place to direct students to do research or to find answer questions.
If you would like an astronomer to visit your classroom, here are some ways to arrange it.
This organization seeks to pair teachers with astronomers in the community. It is a formal partnership that seeks four or more classroom visits by the astronomer. It also provides extensive resources for the teacher including special classroom seminars and various equipment that can be borrowed.
Joining Project Astro requires both the teacher and the astronomer to attend a special two-day training and planning seminar that is held once a year before the school year.
Direct contact with an astronomer.
You can contact a local astronomy club to ask if any of their members would be willing to make a classroom visit. You will find that most clubs will jump at the opportunity.
A good way to find a local club is to go to the Night Sky Network (https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/index.cfm) and enter your zip code on the right side of the page. You will get a list of events and clubs in your area by scrolling down.