SITE VISIT: School for the Stars

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Science  23 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5427, pp. 491
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5427.491d

Like two giant galaxies passing in the dark, scientists and schoolteachers often go about their work without ever making contact. For astronomy and astrophysics at least, the education Web page of the Astronomy Society of the Pacific (ASP) powerfully bridges this gap.

Although valuable for anyone with an interest in the cosmos, the site connects best with college astronomy instructors and precollege educators, who may be a bit nervous about teaching the subject. It offers links to the society's flagship education efforts: ASTRO, which brings teachers and astronomers together in classrooms for grades 4–9; and SOFIA, which hooks teachers up with NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy project. The ASP pages also provide a galaxy of links to teacher resources and hands-on project ideas. Among the most popular parts of the site are a newsletter for teachers and a section debunking astronomical pseudoscience, such as astrology and the “face” on Mars. “There is a lot of nonsense on the Web, especially about outer space,” notes former site director Andrew Fraknoi. “The ASP site prides itself on being a source of reliable information.”

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