Robotic Telescopes and Student Research in the School Curriculum around the OECD countries
The aim of this paper is to explore the presence and possible incorporation of inquiry-based learning approaches using Robotic Telescopes and Student Research in the regular science curriculum. This study uses preliminary findings from an extensive ongoing study, which is currently reviewing the extent of astronomy content in the school curriculum of the 35 member countries from the OECD in addition to two emerging nations in modern astronomy – China and South Africa, which are not part of the OECD. Analysis of curriculum documents from 28 OECD countries, including China and South Africa, reveals that although there is a prevalence of astronomy related content in most grades, incorporating Robotic Telescopes and Student Research into the regular science curriculum is limited by two interdependent factors. Firstly, the majority of curricula introduce astronomy-related concepts through a descriptive lens, with a focus on the “what?”, rather than the “how?” or “why?”. Secondly, astronomy in comparison to other topics gets very little time allocation. Robotic Telescopes provide teachers with enormous potential to teach students not only topics related to science, but also to afford students the opportunity to engage in “authentic science”. Thus, it is vital for the members of the astronomy community to play a greater role in the development of curricula.