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    New Delhi: New fillip to astronomy education in India

    New Delhi: The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has established a new branch office of its Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE ) in India. This office is part of a global network working for the development of astronomy education at the school level. The OAE Centre India will be managed by the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, an autonomous institution under the University Grants Commission, Ministry of Education, in association with the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (HBCSE-TIFR), Mumbai. 

    The focus of the new Centre will be on astronomy teaching methods and tools of assessment for middle- and high-school students and teachers, along with language inclusivity. “The astronomy community has collectively created many educational resources in the last few years. However, there is a need for standardised tools and protocols to assess the quality and impact value of these resources, as well as that of the teacher training programmes that are being currently conducted. The new centre will strive to develop these tools and protocols, and also devise newer modules and training structures based on such an assessment,” said Prof. Somak Raychaudhury, Director of IUCAA. 

    The centre will also support initiatives in neighbouring countries that use common languages. It will, among other things, develop a model curriculum that is relevant and sensitive to specific regions, cultures, and languages of India, and countries in Asia / Africa with similar learning environments; create teaching materials and strategies with a focus on the delivery of quality content even in low-resource classrooms. 

    Understanding teacher’s existing beliefs, competencies and confidence levels with regards to teaching astronomy in classrooms will be key to restructure teacher training programmes. The new centre will create assessment rubrics, not just for student learning but also to improve the clarity of curriculum materials and the efficacy of teacher training programmes”, said Surhud More from IUCAA. Aniket Sule from HBCSE-TIFR said, “The Centre will work towards formal astronomy education research at the school level. The cognitive landscape, related to astronomy, in students’ minds would be systematically investigated by developing tools such as concept inventories. At the same time, creating astronomical concept maps will lead to a better understanding of learning trajectories”, 

    Initiate News Agency (INA), New Delhi

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