Teaching stellar astrophysics in the Middle School
10:00 - 10:15
Co-authors: M. Bandecchi and Paulo S. Bretones.
Introducing astronomical contents beyond the well-known Solar System subjects is a challenge in Education. It has been suggested that stars are excellent examples of a variety of phenomena (heat transfer, fluid equilibrium, light) which are already an established part of the corresponding Physics courses, and serve to integrate them into a consistent body which improves the cognitive efficiency to a considerable degree. We develop and apply a didactic sequence on stars devised to target an audience of 14-15 years old students in a Brazilian Middle School. We show how these classes changed the perception of the astronomical setting for them, and follow their cognitive evolution for a full year after the lessons. We conclude with a positive evaluation of the impact of the experience, as emerging from the applied tests. In addition, we discuss the limits of the empirical approach to science within this subject, at the edge of the "natural science" nature when compared to the Solar System contents much easier to be directly experienced.