The Hands-On Universe Project and Modeling Instruction Based HOU: MI-HOU

  • Steven Carpenter
  • Stephen Colbert
  • Richard Gosnell
  • Alan Gould
  • Doreen Grener
  • Richard Lohman
  • Colleen Megowan
  • Carl Pennypacker Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Jenifer Perazzo


We describe here an evolving process to re-cast HOU (the Hands-On Universe project) into the conceptual framework, pedagogical structure, and teacher network of Modeling Instruction (“MI”). This new system “MI-HOU” (pronounced “My H-O-U”) has many attributes that we believe will tilt it towards sustainability and long term success. Before its merging with MI, Hands-On Universe (HOU or Global Hands-On Universe -- GHOU – see has helped pioneer the use of remote telescope and other professional grade astronomy data in classrooms, and has had evidenced many successes over its lifetime. HOU has enjoyed decades of gradual expansion and growth into many classrooms around the world, and has been an effective enabler of students undertaking high-quality, inquiry-based science education. HOU skills include many of the characteristics and attributes of research astronomy. Such intensive, inquiry-based work is broadly supported by many science standards in the United States (the “NGSS” – Next Generation Science Standards, ref. 1)), and guidance from the from international education research (see Barron and Darling-Hammond, ref. 2). Now, to enable broader and deeper acceptance across a wider audience, HOU is converting its pedagogy and materials to Modeling Instruction (see MI-HOU will also eventually become part of a high school earth and space science curriculum, besides reaching semester long astronomy classes, and some physics and physical science courses. Modeling Instruction is a very successful and growing pedagogy that affords much deeper conceptual learning by students than that from conventional teaching.   MI students usually score better on tests that probe concepts, for example. Embedding remote telescopes into this pedagogical framework should allow their use powerfully by a larger number of classrooms within the Modeling Instruction Community (1800 physics teachers, for example). All the while, through assessments that are being developed, we gradually begin the important spade work of convincing school authorities of the power of this kind of teaching and learning.