Last year I had the privilege to serve as the Special Curator for the online collection Finding Our Place in the Cosmos: From Galileo to Sagan and Beyond. This was, unquestionably, the coolest thing I have ever had the chance to work on.
Astronomy Day is April 25, and we at Teaching with the Library of Congress are standing by with a cluster of blog posts featuring primary sources that explore changing ideas of the solar system and what lies beyond it.
Historical documents may be rooted in the past, but they provide a powerful way for the scientists and stargazers of today to familiarize themselves with scientific practices, to observe the ways in which scientific knowledge changes over time, and to honor the legacy of those who have boldly gone before them.
Our ideas about science and technology play an important role in how we imagine the future. Does new technology directly improve society? Or is it more complicated than that. We can look at a series of items from the new online collection Finding Our Place in the Cosmos: From Galileo to Sagan and Beyond to explore how Carl Sagan’s ideas developed and changed on this topic over time.
“The context for each imaginary contraption becomes fodder for understanding ideas about space and flight.” We’ve added some ideas at the end for ways to use these primary sources to deepen student understanding of the ways in which people have imagined space and flight.
It can be tricky to understand exactly what is going on during an eclipse. However, eclipses offer a great opportunity for exploring the relationship between the Earth, moon and sun.
Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune: These are the eight planets of the solar system displayed on diagrams in our educational resources today. Of course, many of us still remember Pluto, which was considered a planet for many years until it was recently reclassified. Pluto’s demotion isn’t the only dramatic change that’s happened to educational solar system diagrams over the years, though.
Science teachers, as well as the Next Generation Science Standards, recognize the importance of understanding models. Primary sources from the Library of Congress collections invite students to explore how different models of the universe have developed over time, and to think a bit more generally about interpreting models.