July 27, 2018 - The Education and Public Outreach (EPO) team hosted a teacher focus group in Tucson on July 16-18. This was the second in a series of events to collect feedback from educators about the formal education products being developed by the EPO team. Twelve teachers with students in advanced-middle school through college attended the focus group; their comments and survey results will inform the EPO team as they continue to refine the online resources provided for teachers during LSST Operations.
The central priority of the meeting was to present teachers with the first of six themed investigations being developed by the EPO team, using an online notebook platform. The teachers were given the opportunity to interact with a prototype notebook, analyzing a data set to answer questions about star properties as their students would in the classroom. A discussion followed in which teachers commented on how they might implement the activity, which elements of the investigation worked well, and which could be improved.
In addition to using the science notebooks, teachers also reviewed instruction and assessment videos, teacher guides, and other prototyped resources developed by the EPO team during the last year. A discussion period also followed each segment in which teachers were invited to give verbal feedback. EPO Evaluation Specialist Ellen Bechtol also guided the teachers through an online survey to capture written opinions and comments throughout the workshop.
The success of the meeting was the result of hard work by the entire EPO team; to get useful feedback it was necessary to provide teachers with significant investigation content on a technologically stable platform. LSST Education Specialist Ardis Herrold remarked that the meeting was incredibly productive, and will help the team with a lot of impending decisions that need to be made. "We have finite resources, and we obviously can't do everything," she commented at the workshop's conclusion. "But having a better understanding of what teachers want--and what they need--makes it easier to establish our priorities and move forward."
Additional photos from the event are available in the LSST Gallery.