A significant challenge that science teachers face is how to help students successfully navigate the bridge from their existing ideas about science concepts to scientifically accepted views. A teacher who uncovers students’ preconceptions about key concepts can use that knowledge to provide learning experiences that support students as they develop richer conceptual understanding. The March 2012 issue of NSTA’s Book Beat highlights resources that can help teachers guide their students on the path from misconceptions to clearer understanding. Page Keeley’s Uncovering Student Ideas in Science Series has been a go-to source for many teachers who want to learn more about what students are thinking about gravity, force and motion, cells, life cycles, and numerous other science topics.
This issue of Book Beat links to two free preview chapters from Page Keeley and Cary Sneider’s brand-new Uncovering Student Ideas in Astronomy. What do your students know—or think they know—about what causes night and day, whether the Moon spins, and what happens to stars when they die? The 45 astronomy probes in the new book provide situations that will pique your students’ interest while helping you evaluate their understanding of how the universe operates. The book covers the broad areas of the nature of planet Earth; the Sun-Earth system; modeling the Moon; dynamic solar system; and stars, galaxies, and the universe. Andrew Fraknoi writes in his Foreword to this new book: “Just like a doctor’s diagnostic tool provides one chemical or physical indicator of our health, each of Keeley and Sneider’s probes measures one or two ideas that lets you know how much surgical repair (if any) might be needed to fix up your students’ astronomical ideas.” For additional resources on misconceptions in science, check out the Everyday Science Mysteries Series; Predict, Observe, Explain; and the Brain-Powered Science Series. Additional NSTA Press resources on astronomy include Project Earth Science: Astronomy, Revised 2nd Edition; and Earth Science Success: 50 Lesson Plans for Grades 6–9.