The Effect of Planetariums on Teaching Specific Astronomy Concepts

Abstract

This study aimed to determine students’ knowledge levels related to specific astronomy concepts and the effect of a planetarium environment on teaching. The study sample included seventh-grade (12–13 years old) students. For this purpose, 240 students of various socioeconomic and cultural levels from six schools (two in the city center, two in the districts and two in the villages) were enrolled in the study. The pretest–posttest control group quasi-experimental design was used in the study. The experimental and control groups were generated by random assignment. The “Solar System and Beyond” unit was selected. In the experimental group, the unit was taught with the use of a planetarium environment, whereas the same unit was taught to the control group students in a classroom environment. A test consisting of 14 multiple-choice questions was used as the pretest and posttest at the beginning and end of the unit. The data obtained were evaluated using the SPSS 20.0 software package program. The study results showed that teaching astronomical concepts in a planetarium environment was more effective than in a classroom environment. The study also revealed that students in the planetarium-assisted group were more successful in comprehending subjects that require 3D thinking, a reference system, changing the time and observation of periodic motion than those in control group.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Test is provided in the “Appendix”.

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Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Cumhur Türk.

Additional information

This study is based on master’s thesis of Cumhur TÜRK.

Appendix: Basic Astronomy Test

Appendix: Basic Astronomy Test

  1. 1.

    What causes night and day?

    1. (a)

      The Earth moves around the Sun.

    2. (b)

      The Sun goes around the Earth.

    3. (c)

      The Earth spins on its axis. \( \checkmark \)

    4. (d)

      Clouds block out the Sun’s light.

    5. (e)

      The Earth moves into and out of the Sun’s shadow.

  2. 2.

    Beijing, the capital of China, is 90° to the east of Samsun. Considering the direction in which the Earth rotates, when it is noon in Samsun, what time of day is it in Beijing?

    figurea
    1. (a)

      Sunrise (morning)

    2. (b)

      Sunset (evening) \( \checkmark \)

    3. (c)

      Noon

    4. (d)

      Midnight

    5. (e)

      Noon the following day

  3. 3.

    How long does it take the Moon to orbit the Earth?

    1. (a)

      An hour

    2. (b)

      A day

    3. (c)

      A week

    4. (d)

      A month \( \checkmark \)

    5. (e)

      A year

  4. 4.

    In order to observe a total eclipse of the Sun from Earth, in what phase does the Moon need to be?

    figureb
  5. 5.

    The main reason that it is hotter in the summer than the winter is that

    1. (a)

      The Earth is closer to the Sun in summer.

    2. (b)

      The Earth is farther from the Sun in summer.

    3. (c)

      Clouds are less in summer.

    4. (d)

      The Earth’s axis points to the same direction relative to the stars, which is tilted relative to the plane of its orbit. \( \checkmark \)

    5. (e)

      The Sun gives off more energy in the summer than in the winter.

  6. 6.

    The Earth follows an elliptical orbit around the Sun, as shown in Fig. I. If the Earth’s orbit were changed into a full circle, as shown in Fig. II, the distance between the two bodies would remain the same throughout the year. How would this affect the seasons?

    figurec
    1. (a)

      Seasonal temperatures would be different from today

    2. (b)

      There would only be summer and winter

    3. (c)

      There would only be autumn and spring

    4. (d)

      The seasons would be as they are today \( \checkmark \)

    5. (e)

      The differences between the seasons would disappear and there would be no seasons

  7. 7.

    When the Sun is right above the flag mast, the mast casts no shadow. When can you observe this from your location (Samsun)?

    1. (a)

      Everyday at noon

    2. (b)

      Only on the middle of summer

    3. (c)

      Only on the middle of winter

    4. (d)

      On the first days of autumn and spring

    5. (e)

      Never from where we are (Samsun city) \( \checkmark \)

  8. 8.

    Which of the following is the correct order of the Sun, the Earth, Jupiter, and the Moon, from the largest to the smallest?

    1. (a)

      Sun, Earth, Moon, Jupiter

    2. (b)

      Earth, Sun, Moon, Jupiter

    3. (c)

      Earth, Moon, Sun, Jupiter

    4. (d)

      Sun, Jupiter, Earth, Moon \( \checkmark \)

    5. (e)

      Sun, Earth, Jupiter, Moon

  9. 9.

    Which of the following is the correct order of the celestial bodies, from the nearest to the Earth to the farthest?

    1. (a)

      Andromeda Galaxy, Sun, Jupiter, Polaris

    2. (b)

      Sun, Jupiter, Polaris, Andromeda Galaxy \( \checkmark \)

    3. (c)

      Jupiter, Sun, Polaris, Andromeda Galaxy

    4. (d)

      Sun, Jupiter, Andromeda Galaxy, Polaris

    5. (e)

      Polaris, Jupiter, Sun, Andromeda Galaxy

  10. 10.

    Compared to the distance to the Moon, how far away is the (Turksat B) artificial satellite (when in space) from the Earth?

    1. (a)

      Very close to the Earth \( \checkmark \)

    2. (b)

      About half way to the Moon

    3. (c)

      On the Moon

    4. (d)

      Very close to the Moon

    5. (e)

      About twice as far as the Moon

  11. 11.

    According to modern ideas and observations, which of the following statements is correct?

    1. (a)

      The Earth is the center of the Universe.

    2. (b)

      The Sun is the center of the Universe.

    3. (c)

      There is no center of the Universe. \( \checkmark \)

    4. (d)

      The Milky Way Galaxy is the center of the Universe.

    5. (e)

      The Pole Star is the center of the Universe

  12. 12.

    Which of the following is the theory explaining the formation of the universe?

    1. (a)

      Evolution theory which explains the change of everything and, therefore, adaptation to the environment

    2. (b)

      Big-Bang theory which presents that universe comes into existence and expands as a result of a big explosion \( \checkmark \)

    3. (c)

      Mass gravity law which presents that whole substances pull each other

    4. (d)

      Creation theory, which asserts that everything was created out of nothing over time

    5. (e)

      Constant universe theory which presents that whole substances in universe exist since endless

  13. 13.

    Looking up from where you are, the constellation Ursa Major may look like a dipper. The dipper would assume a different shape if you looked up from where?

    1. (a)

      From a city in Southeastern Anatolia

    2. (b)

      From a city in Europe

    3. (c)

      From the Moon’s surface

    4. (d)

      From Planet Saturn

    5. (e)

      From a far-away star \( \checkmark \)

  14. 14.

    Which of the following is the shape of the Earth?

    1. (a)

      Ellipse

    2. (b)

      Sphere

    3. (c)

      Geoid \( \checkmark \)

    4. (d)

      Round

    5. (e)

      Flat

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Türk, C., Kalkan, H. The Effect of Planetariums on Teaching Specific Astronomy Concepts. J Sci Educ Technol 24, 1–15 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-014-9516-6

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Keywords

  • Science education
  • Astronomy education
  • Planetarium
  • Astronomy concepts