T4W December
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  1. #1

    Default Choosing a middle school astronomy program

    Good afternoon, all.

    My daughter and I have just begun our first full year of homeschooling (7th grade). In science, we did a mini unit for the solar eclipse. I had anticipated that we’d rotate through a sampling of science fields this year but I think we’ve just agreed to stay with astronomy.

    So now I’m looking for a full year astronomy “class”. I have no background in the subject so I’m feeling intimidated by anything too DIY in terms of lab work. We’ve been using a Great Course and other web resources to introduce concepts so far.

    In particular, I’m wondering if anyone has used Starry Night for Middle School (Starry Night Middle School | Astronomy Education Software). I’ve had a hard time finding anything in the way of reviews for the education series but the original programs get high marks. It looks like labs may be essentially built-in since the program appears to use simulations and observations to answer questions. It’s not clear that formal labs are included.

    For anyone who has used and enjoyed alternate programs, I would also love to hear their recommendations.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
    Last edited by LauraZ; 09-16-2017 at 04:31 PM.

  2. BEH Dec
  3. #2

    Default

    Pandia Press just released their Astronomy curriculum that is appropriate for middle & high school. I have not use this one, but I am familiar with their other science curriculums, as well as the author's work, and they are very good.
    Choosing Our Own Adventure with DS 9
    Global Village School - Supporting our desire to teach social justice and global awareness
    http://chooseourownadventures.blogspot.com

  4. #3

    Default

    Are other people seeing the opening post on this question? It doesn't show up for me. It's very odd.

    In any case, one of my 8th graders is doing astronomy. Pandia Press is a great option, but I'm not personally a fan, so we went with a self-planned approach. He's not a heavy reader, so my main readings are The Planets by Dava Sobel (great little book - Sobel is a wonderfully compelling author) and Solar System: A Visual Exploration by Marcus Chowan (a very picture heavy book with good, basic text). I also have some learn the constellations resources. He's watching all of Crash Course: Astronomy and the guy who does that is great. Finally, we have the book Seeing the Sky for experiments - this is a pretty self driven kid, so I've left it open ended for him to pick about a dozen explorations to do. We're also attending the monthly meetings for a couple of local astronomy clubs so we can view through their telescopes (like, last night we got to look at Saturn's rings and moons - it was cool). Because we're in an urban area, darkness is at a premium and requires that we get special permission to go places that are dark, which means we have to attend these sorts of things. But that's okay - it's fun too.
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  5. #4

    Default

    Hmm. That's really weird. I could see my original post yesterday but today I don't see it either.

    Thank you both for replying ... especially since there no longer appears to be anything to reply to!

    Mariam, I hadn't seen the Pandia Press curriculum, so I'll check that out. Thank you again for starting a thread in order to create a reply. :-)

    Farrar, do you mind sharing what it is about the Pandia Press option that doesn't work for you? We originally started with the Great Course "Skywatching: Seeing & Understanding Cosmic Wonders". We really enjoyed it but I think I'm suffering a crisis of confidence when it comes to independently managing a subject I don't know for a whole year.

    My biggest concern is what to do for labs. I can't really think what an astronomy lab experiment would look like. I'll definitely check out Seeing the Sky. If it gives us what we need there, then I may be able to relax on that.

    Also, I'm still intrigued by the Starry Night program primarily because it seems to offer the ability to simulate different scenarios. If it includes labs, then it seems like a great way to really "get" a concept.

    Thanks again,
    Laura


    I'm going to re-enter my original post here, so others can see what it was. (I do all my original writing in text edit):

    My daughter and I have just begun our first full year of homeschooling (7th grade). In science, we did a mini unit for the solar eclipse. I had anticipated that we'd rotate through a sampling of science fields this year but I think we've just agreed to stay with astronomy.

    So now I'm looking for a full year astronomy "class". I have no background in the subject so I'm feeling intimidated by anything too DIY in terms of lab work. We've been using a Great Course and other web resources to introduce concepts.

    In particular, I'm wondering if anyone has used Starry Night for Middle School (Starry Night Middle School | Astronomy Education Software). I've had a hard time finding anything in the way of reviews for the education series but the original programs get high marks. It looks like labs may be essentially built-in since the program appears to use simulations and observations to answer questions. It's not clear that formal labs are included.

    For anyone who has used and enjoyed alternate programs, I would also love to hear their recommendations. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

  6. #5

    Default

    Pandia just isn't my style. I think it's fine (other than the use of comic sans - that's a crime). But I also think it's not very inspiring. The text is just okay. But I recommend it to people - compared to the other options out there, it's way more in depth and one of the few options that has a text and experiments at all.

    I really see zero wrong with making The Great Courses your spine. I thought about doing that. That's a great approach.

    I looked at a few options for experiments. You're not really doing "experiments" as much as observations. Seeing the Sky is all observation activities. There are some other books like it, but it seemed like the most in depth. There's no way we'll do everything in there, but I liked the variety of things it included. There are a few things that are also more meteorological themed, but it's nearly all astronomy.
    Want to read about my homeschool?
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    Children's Books, Homeschooling and Random Musings...

    Want help homeschooling or sending kids to college?
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  7. #6

    Default

    In order to get an idea if Pandia's curriculum will work for you. Check out their try-before-you-buy on their website.

    Try Before You Buy - Pandia Press, History and Science CurriculumsPandia Press, History and Science Curriculums

    I have used the ones for younger kids and I like the scope and sequence, but I usually modified it to fit our style.
    Choosing Our Own Adventure with DS 9
    Global Village School - Supporting our desire to teach social justice and global awareness
    http://chooseourownadventures.blogspot.com

  8. #7

    Default

    Thanks again to both of you! I really appreciate your time and the thoughtful responses.

  9. #8

    Default

    We're doing the Pandia Press astronomy 2 this year. DD is 8th grade. It's billed as a one-semester class but with extra reading etc. we're stretching it the whole year.

    I tend to have kiddo read extra books that are on the topic. So The Planets that Farrar mentioned, along with some Sagan, Tyson, etc. (not necessarily whole books but sections). She'll watch things as well, such as Crash Course and rewatching the new Cosmos, and other videos (PBS' Nova etc.). Much of the curriculum so far is making things for extended observation. Today she's building a sundial.
    Eclectically homeschooling 8th grade dd, who likes science as much as art...

  10. #9

    Default

    We did a lot of astronomy activities when we did Big History as a science class a few years ago. I have links to the activities, including a dvd I bought that had tons of articles and activities on it. I definitely plan on doing that again - it was a lot of fun. I second looking for a local astronomy club. My son (17) is planning on majoring in astronomy/astrophysics so we just went to the local stargazers meeting and it looks like they have a lot of star parties/local outreach so our calendar just got busier. https://homeschoolsciencegeek.wordpr...science-class/
    Stay at home physicist - Mom to C (17) and J (14)
    https://homeschoolsciencegeek.wordpress.com

  11. #10

    Default

    We are going to do middle school astronomy in the spring semester. We are using the Science Fusion middle school series. I have not reviewed the labs for the second semester, yet in detail, but there is a lot of modeling, I think. We also will be supplementing with Crash Course as was recommended by ferrarwilliams.

    How the Universe Works is a very engaging science show, and we will be using that as well. We also have a low-end telescope. Probably an actual club like others mentioned would be better, especially if it will enable you if you get access to something higher powered. Unfortunately for us, the closest one to us is pretty far away.

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Choosing a middle school astronomy program