Space for All: A Multinational Astronomy Education Study
11:30 - 11:45
School systems have historically focused on curriculum, test preparation, and disciplinary control rather than engaging in quality learning experiences (Brown et al., 2019). The post-pandemic period affords an exclusive opportunity to infuse topics of interest and relevance into science courses, which equip students as epistemic agents to engage in science-as-practice. Astronomy uniquely provides these learning opportunities, yet, existing research in astronomy education is largely centered on undergraduates. This qualitative study is the first to explore examples of pre-university astronomy education internationally, and provides context to the quantitative study by Salimpour et al., (2021). Our methods included coded surveys (N=68) and cross case analysis of 10 interviews. Our data provide exemplary case studies of international astronomy education efforts in community and schools. Results indicated that countries represented by participants favored informal, self-directed astronomy learning over mandated and formal curricula. Some nations lacked professional astronomers or university programs which limited professional growth opportunities. Partnerships, collaborations, and public outreach emerged as important ingredients to learning astronomy. This, along with the ongoing work of Salimpour and Fitzgerald, provide multinational curricular and pedagogical examples of leveraging astronomy as a “ gateway science” and inform interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary approaches to teaching science. This project will inform future studies and collaborations between educators, astronomers, and informal spaces.