Innovative Technology-Enabled Astronomy for Middle Schools II (ITEAMS II)
Nationwide, middle-school youth from underrepresented communities have few opportunities to engage in authentic STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) investigations that build on the students' intrinsic interests in space science and robotics to increase their interests in both ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and STEM careers. ITEAMS II is a collaborative project of science educators and researchers at the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. It is a nationwide online learning community of grades 5-8 students, educators, and parents and caregivers. The project goal is to transfer the intrinsic and active learning of students in space science and robotics into increased interest in ICT or STEM careers. ITEAMS II features research-quality, remotely-controlled, online telescopes (http://mo-www.harvard.edu/Micro-Observatory/ ) accessible from school, home, or any location with internet connection, plus complementary curricula. ITEAMS II will use a wide range of cyber-learning tools to provide ongoing professional development to the educators who are central to the online learning community. At least 80 educators and upwards of 120 students will be involved over the course of the three-year project.
Students access the robotic telescopes to acquire solar system or deep space images, and use project software to process the images. Then as part of an online learning community the students will engage in events and contests, and complete and share capstone projects. Educators will participate in online synchronous and asynchronous professional development and take on leadership roles in the learning community. Upwards of 150 parents will be involved each year, collaborating with their children in activities from using the telescopes to shared learning in community events.