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Paper: Astronomy as a Bridge to Equity in a Pandemic World
Volume: 533, ASP 2021: Sharing Best Practices – AstronomyTeaching and Public Engagement
Page: 246
Authors: Bernhardt, C. H.; Willis, S.
Abstract: Earth and space sciences encompass the most neglected realm of science education in the U.S. and lowest representation of women and people of color. For over a century coursework has minimally included biology, chemistry, and physics, integrating Earth in middle school and eliminating astronomy. The scarcity of course offerings and absence of AP or IB have relegated courses to universities, which immediately limits exposure to those with access. K–12 settings are critical for the formation of a STEM identity, particularly amongst girls and students of non-dominant groups. This session will explore the integration of astronomy to equitably build bridges between science, community, and classroom. Students in urban settings may have even less academic exposure to astronomy through a vicious cycle of deficit thinking and systematic oppression. A pedagogy of poverty dominates, in which high teacher turnover fosters a reliance on minimizing coursework to a minimum set of knowledge requirements and removing local application and context. This may look like non-local examples, unrelatable representation and failure to incorporate areas of relevancy and urgency. This can further complicate the incorporation of astronomy, which may seem abstract, complicated, and unnecessary. We can only imagine the magnification of this separation following a year of remote, removed learning mediated by a screen. By providing mechanisms of access to space sciences connected to local environments, educators can facilitate authentic learning to students previously excluded in these fields. Astronomy has the potential to disrupt colonial narratives while providing greater access to 21st century skills. Participants will be provided free tools to foster and facilitate equity and justice, while connecting to the natural world. This session will be highly interactive and allow participants to explore the use of satellite imagery to address social justice issues in their region and abroad.
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