1 Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto, Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciência do Espaço da Universidade do Porto (PORTUGAL)
2 Departamento de Química e Bioquímica, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto (PORTUGAL)
3 Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto, e Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciência do Espaço da Universidade do Porto (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2020 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 6518-6526
ISBN: 978-84-09-17939-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2020.1741
Conference name: 14th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2020
Location: Valencia, Spain
Public awareness of science-astronomy (PASa), in the particular case of Astronomy, can be considered satisfactory when compared to other sciences. The public and in particular the first level teachers, show to be interested and have a positive attitude towards Astronomy. Yet, they reveal lack of knowledge and lack of consciousness about the processes studied in this scientific area. Thus, we need to develop the public understanding of science-astronomy (PUSa) which can take place in a dialogical and participatory matrix of public engagement with science-astronomy and technology (PESaT).

In this context CoAstro: @n Astronomy Condo emerged – a citizen science project that starts with the involvement of elementary teachers, with the Research Group on the “Origin and Evolution of Stars and Planets” at the Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço (IA). This initiative aimed, among other things, to promote the appropriation of substantial knowledge of key astronomy contents and scientific processes.

For this purpose, the “Astronomy Questionnaire” (AQ) was elaborated, based on the “Astronomy Diagnostic Test 2.0” (ADT), already tested with teachers, in previously studies (performed by other authors).

To produce AQ we started by translating ADT into Portuguese. This first translation went through a scientific and linguistic validation process. The validated version of the questionnaire allowed us to proceed to the pilot study aiming the facial and content validation.
To monitor the teachers' level of substantial knowledge, at the beginning and end of the CoAstro project, the pre-test was applied in late 2018 and the post-test in mid-2019. At both times the AQ was answered by 9 elementary teachers (8 female and 1 male, with an average age of 44.8 years) who volunteered to participate in CoAstro. The teachers had degrees in subjects outside the scientific field and they had never taken any specific training in Astronomy.

The results show an increase in knowledge from the pre-test (M=20.6%; SD=9.5%) to the post-test (M=36.0%; SD=16.2%). It also shows:
i) an improvement in all conceptual categories of AQ (“notion of scale”, “movements”, “gravity” and “general category”);
ii) more significant improvements in thematic categories that were most worked in CoAstro and for longer time;
iii) less significant improvements in items that appealed to some mathematical reasoning;
iv) that teachers at the post-test, despite not being totally confident in their answers, have, at least, an opinion about the items under analysis;
v) that teachers´ wrong conceptions at the post-test are different from the initials ones and reveal a evolutive process towards the scientific concept (they are closer to it).

Analysing the evolution of substantial knowledge of key astronomy content will help to better assess CoAstro, by measuring the relevance, of a PESaT citizen science project (which combines remote interactions with systematic bilateral interactions) for a more holistic awareness and understanding of knowledge in Astronomy.
Citizen science, Science communication, Science popularization, Astronomy.