Page prepared for SERC by Sadredin C. Moosavi and John McDaris.

Astronomy for K-8 Preservice Teachers

Course Type:
Science Education

Course Size:
Lecture/Lab 24/24

Course Summary

Astronomy for K-8 Pre-Service Teachers is the space science content course in the integrated science teacher development sequence. The three-hour combined lecture/lab course requires students to work in teams to solve problems and think critically and creatively to actively explore the solar system and universe while developing pedagogical techniques to transmitting this content to K-8 students. Solar system bodies, motion of objects in the universe, solar evolution and human exploration of space are all discussed. Methods will include hands-on/minds-on experiences, inquiry-oriented investigations, constructivism, concept maps, group discussions, demonstrations, and student presentations. Students learn by doing hands-on, inquiry-based cooperative learning that will not be limited to scheduled labs and may also be done during lecture time. Students prepare a detailed classroom lesson related to the course content but do not actually engage in clinical activities with students at this point in their program.

For Dr. Mattox's reflections on the course and its design, see Astronomy for K-8 Teachers: Role in the Program.

Course Context:

Students in this course can be at any point in the pre-service science course sequence, as it assumes no content background knowledge beyond high school. Freshmen and sophomores typically dominate the course, though juniors and seniors are also present. The course is taken before the pedagogy component of the student's program.

Course Goals:

As part of the teacher preparation sequence, students:
  1. Increase content knowledge about the solar system, galaxy, and universe in order to solve problems and describe systems.
  2. Demonstrate confidence in presenting science in the classroom.
  3. Use different methods used to teach science and assess learning.
  4. Compile existing teaching resources and construct new inquiry-based classroom activities.
  5. Demonstrate fluency in Michigan science standards and familiarity with the MI Educational Assessment Program.

Course Content:

This course focuses on the space science concepts of the earth sciences. Students explore the creation and nature of the universe, the cycle of stellar evolution and bodies of the solar system while examining the rules which govern the motion of bodies in space. The role of such motions in causing seaons is discussed. A focus on exploration of the solar system provides a human dimension to this subject. Students also develop a classroom lesson based on this content.

Teaching Materials:

Materials available for this course on this website include:


Assessment in this course focuses on objective multiple choice, short answer, essay exams, laboratory exercises and development of a classroom lesson related to the astronomy content. The grading scale is weighted more heavily toward the exams in order to avoid grade inflation issues and insure that content coverage remains the focus. Assessment of the lesson uses a detailed rubric that evaluates both the science content and its delivery.

References and Notes:

This course is part of a 12-credit series of four courses designed as a group in accordance with Michigan standards, which encourage the teaching of integrated science with a balance of biological, earth, space and physical sciences. These courses were designed specifically for pre-service teachers instead of using pre-existing general education courses to cover science content.