Innovative Teaching at Penn State offers lunch talk on science learning Feb. 7

January 30, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Innovative Teaching at Penn State (ITAP) Brown Bag Lunch Series will present “Using a Children's Storybook Assignment to Assess Pre-Service Teachers' Knowledge of Science Practices in Astronomy” from 12:05 to 1:20 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 7, in Paterno Library’s Mann Assembly Room and online via Zoom.

The lecture, presented by Chris Palma, teaching professor of astronomy, and Julia Plummer, associate professor of education (science education), is co-sponsored by the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence.

The cross-listed course Astro/Sci Ed 116, Introduction to Astronomy for Educators, grew out of the National Science Foundation-funded Earth and Space Science Partnership. During that NSF project, summer workshops were offered for in-service science teachers. Extensive findings from this workshop formed the basis for a new course for education students in the PreK to 4 and/or 4 to 8 grade certification programs at Penn State.

Students were assigned a final project to write and illustrate a children’s storybook, where characters used evidence-based explanations for astronomical phenomena. Palma and Plummer studied these storybooks over the first three offerings of the course and found that coherent investigations in these final storybooks increased from 35 percent to 71 percent. This suggests that this type of project can assess how preservice teachers are learning science practices, and that changes in instructional practices led to improved learning by students in this course.

Box lunches will be provided for registered attendees.

Registration is free. To register, visit For those unable to attend in person, the talk will be available via Zoom at

To see other available Schreyer Institute events, visit

  • Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence
    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated February 06, 2019