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ARCturus is a virtual learning environment that supports the school and recreational education of astronomy. The site consists of educational topics, arranged according to the structure of the universe, advancing based on the developing worldview.

ARCturus has been designed especially for teachers to help in astronomy education in schools but the site also includes information for everyone interested in astronomy.

ARCturus website as a learning environment

The topics of ARCturus are presented in structural, natural manner moving forward from the familiar surroundings to more advanced themes within the Universe, keeping in mind the student development and comprehension skills.

Each link in the expanding chain of learning represents one section of the structure that moves further into space. In each section, the standard can be chosen according to the skill level of the student, and switched higher or lower at any time.

More advanced subjects that are closely connected to the given topics have been starred to maintain clarity.

To make navigation even more straightforward, the sections form entities that have been divided into few subsections. Moving between the sections and subsections is simple. The navigation is visible on the left margin of the site.

The structure of the thematic entities remains the same throughout the site. It consists of general information on the topic, goals, assignments with instructions and pictures, handling and evaluation of the results and keywords for web searches.

All seven topics are visible on the left margin of the page, by clicking each of them few teaching entities for one or two lessons open up. General Information section includes article-like descriptions for astronomy teacher training in the fields of astronomy, computer-aided teaching and international collaboration between teachers.

On the right margin of the page, more information can be found on the current astronomy topics, noted astronomy organisations and websites that provide additional materials for the teaching of astronomy.

Ideology

All the material on the site is freely available. Teachers can give feedback on the material and offer their own ideas for the use of their colleagues.

In addition to virtual ARCturus resource centre, astronomy education is supported by e.g. Helsinki Observatory.

Internationality

International astronomy summer schools have enabled the network of astronomy teachers in Europe. As all the participating teachers have their own peer networks in their own countries, the network of teachers is greatly expanding.

Discussions in summer schools have revealed that teachers internationally have similar needs and expectations in order to support astronomy teaching as Finnish teachers. Therefore, ARCturus will be translated into English to expand the services to wider audiences.

 



Northern Lights with coloured rays and bands in Enontekiö. Lapland in February 2013 (photo IH, Finland).


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