The State Constitution of New Jersey stipulates that resident children receive a "Thorough and Efficient"1 education. To that end, the state of New Jersey has created Core Curriculum Content Standards. The New Jersey Standards are meant to serve as guidelines for science education and to "define the results expected but do not limit district strategies for how to ensure that their students achieve these expectations" 2. The Core Curriculum also defines an assessment standard which "will define the State high school's graduation requirements" 3. This paper contains units designed to help teachers teach to their students the information required by the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standard 5.11: "All students will Gain an Understanding of the Origin, Evolution, and Structure of the Universe" 4 . The examples are written for high school teachers and therefore reference Progress Indicators 7-9 as a primary guidelines. The progress indicators for high school Astronomy as stated in the New Jersey Standards are : "7. Construct a model that accounts for the variation in the length of day and night. 8. Evaluate evidence that supports scientific theories of the origin of the universe. 9. Analyze benefits generated by the technology of space exploration" 5. This paper concentrates on Indicator Eight, but many other Curriculum Content Standards can and will be incorporated into these exercises, according to the intention of the standards when they were created. Some examples of other standards that are used as guidelines are Cross-Content Workplace readiness standards 1-3, "1. All students will develop career planning and workplace readiness skills. 2. All students will use technology, information and other tools. 3. All students will use critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving skills" 6.
In addition to the Standards for education put in place by the State of New Jersey, National Science Education Standards describe a method of education based upon Scientific Inquiry, which is "more than 'science as process,' in which students learn such skills as observing, inferring, and experimenting. Inquiry is central to science learning. When engaging in inquiry, students describe objects and events, ask questions, construct explanations, test those explanations against current scientific knowledge, and communicate their ideas to others. They identify their assumptions, use critical and logical thinking, and consider alternative explanations. In this way, students actively develop their understanding of science by combining scientific knowledge with reasoning and thinking skills" 7. The units in this paper are written to promote this type of learning and teaching. They should not limit the activities of the teacher or student but should serve as a starting point for deeper scientific investigations according to the interest of the students.
Each of these units include Purpose, Backgrounds, and Activities. The Purpose section generally outlines the goals for several sequential lessons and indicates progress indicators used where appropriate. The Background sections include the basic information necessary to put the specific activity into context. These Background sections are not meant to serve as a complete resource for information for the student or teacher nor as the starting point for the lesson. For further information students should be encouraged to consult other resources including textbooks, web pages listed in the document and the informative sources listed in the Other Resources section which follow the units. The Activities themselves will appear in a box to offset them from the extra information.
This is a work in progress; some activities or background sections may refer to future lesson plans that are still under construction. In the future, activities which reference other web sites for information may be integrated into this text, along with figures and data needed for activities. In addition, the Other Resources section will be expanded to include more references in diverse media.
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