Investigating Astronomy was developed by TERC and funded in part by the National Science Foundation. TERC is a research-based organization that works at the frontiers of theory and practice to contribute to a deeper understanding of learning and teaching. The Investigating Astronomy curriculum has undergone a rigorous iterative process of writing, testing in real classrooms, and rewriting.
Each unit of Investigating Astronomy begins with a few paragraphs that describe the Challenge, a project that students must complete at the end of the unit. The information presented is interesting and intriguing to students, leaving them with questions and problems to solve during the course of the activities in the unit. Explorations within the unit prepare students for the unit Challenge. Although the Challenge is introduced in the beginning of the unit and referred to throughout the Explorations, students will only complete this final project after they have completed the entire unit. The Challenge is the motivation for learning the science content and practices in each unit.
Investigating Astronomy presents all the major topics in an astronomy course through engaging, hands-on investigations and tools that help students learn in an interactive and meaningful way. Each Exploration is based on an essential question that is a guide to what students are learning. Activities are linked and form a sequenced learning approach to promote deep and enduring understanding of a concept or process in astronomy. Investigating Astronomy also focuses on scientific inquiry, the process of making scientific claims and supporting them with evidence, and using scientific reasoning to justify and revise those claims.
Kit components are identified, designed, and tested over time to meet the needs of the activities specific to the Investigating Astronomy program. Many activities within the Explorations call for the use of accompanying technology components. These include the IA Data Center, a web-based tool that enables realistic image processing and analysis for investigations, and Starry Night, a sky-viewing software program that allows the display and measurement of sky motions and changes over time. These tools are an integral part of the Investigating Astronomy program—they provide learning opportunities unavailable in most textbooks. There is also an online game for Investigating Astronomy called IA Triplet, which provides a fun way to get to know the structure of the universe and see many of the types of tools, objects, and concepts that are included in the book.
It’s About Time® is committed to providing comprehensive, ongoing professional-development support services for districts or schools implementing Investigating Astronomy. Our highly experienced implementation specialists will lead workshops to get you started with teaching Investigating Astronomy, follow up sessions that provide additional content and pedagogical support, as well as online and onsite mentoring. A newsletter that reinforces the content of each unit is also available for students to take home. These documents are designed to encourage families and community members to get involved with Investigating Astronomy. The newsletters contain a set of sample activities that students and families can do at home.