The Ballarat Observatory offers a range of programs for Teachers and Students.

Our aim is to make the complex concepts in Astronomy and Physics understandable and enjoyable by everyone.

Most people have the impression that a visit to an observatory is merely about looking through telescopes, this may have been the case a few decades ago, however, this is no longer the case.

Observatories generally fall under two main categories: Research and public education. Research observatories are not geared to provide continual educational services to the general public, whereas, public education observatories much like The Ballarat observatory are set up as a science hub for the community.

The Ballarat Observatory was setup to educate the public about science in general and astronomy in particular. We act as a conduit between the professional and the general public from an educational perspective. Therefore, each visit to the observatory is about enhancing and adding to the core science concepts that are taught at school and providing students, teachers and parents the opportunity to interact, ask questions and experience what the field of astronomy entails.

Our program is based around three key sections

  • tour of the observatory
  • 3D movies/interactives/presentation/Q&A session/activities
  • observing the night sky

Each of these sessions is independent of the others, some schools may opt to just do sections (1) & (2), others would like to just do section (3). The key is to decide what is it that you would like us to address. The goal is not to come and look through a telescope, rather it is have an experience about science & astronomy.

We understand that is it challenging for teachers to answer all questions and still have time to meet their curriculum, hence, we have designed our education programs to help teachers and allow them to collaborate with us to enhance their teaching.

At the Ballarat Observatory, we provide a relaxed setting, wherein, students, teachers & parents can have their questions answered without the pressures of time or the stress that their questions may not seem “intelligent”. Although, the internet is littered with a plethora of resources that people can use, some of those resources may not be accurate.  Furthermore, the interaction with an experienced presenter provides a dynamic and interesting learning environment.

For Teachers-

The Ballarat Observatory offers a unique range of education programs that cover the Victorian Curriculum F-10.

We also run professional development courses for Teachers, one of which is our Introduction to Astronomy course, which introduces teachers to basics of astronomy and physics.

Teacher feedback

“……the students are still talking about their visit 2 weeks later….”.

“….Saeed was terrific and the students were totally engaged…very impressed….” 

We offer an experience that will provide a life long starting point to an insight about our solar system, galaxy and or the broader universe.

The Ballarat Observatory offers educational tours for school groups that help explain some of the mysteries of the Universe and offer simplified explanations of the fundamental concepts in astronomy, physics and science in general.

Daytime tours can be booked Monday to Thursday from 10:30 to 15:00 during school terms. Night tours can be booked Monday to Thursday but the time depends on daylight savings. Tours are usually scheduled to begin half an hour before sunset.

Each tour can be tailored to your students’ needs and is guided by an experienced astronomy/science educator.

In addition to presentations, we use computer simulations and virtual night sky software to enhance the learning experience, from collisions between galaxies to the formation of star systems.

For Students

Below is an overview of the areas covered.

 

Topic Areas Covered Year
5 & 6
Year
7 & 8
Year
9 & 10
Year
VCE
The Earth & Moon The Earth as a Planet  The Earth’s rotation and the cycle of night/day
The phases of the Moon
The orbit of the Earth and other planets around the Sun
Time periods: days, months, years
The cycle of the seasons
Yes Yes
The Solar System Overview of the Solar SystemThe eight planets + dwarf planets
Comparisons between rocky terrestrial giants
Planetary atmospheres
Craters and other surface features
Little things in the Solar System: comets, asteroids, meteors, Kuiper Belt Objects, Pluto
Recent exploration of Mars and the search for water based on Real Data
Yes Yes
Stars The Sun as a star
Nuclear fusion as the Sun’s power source
Atoms, elements and the periodic table
Life-cycle of the Sun and other stars
Star and planet formation
End-states of stars: red giant, planetary nebula, white dwarf, supernova
Pulsars: properties, locations, tests of gravitational theories
Stars in our Galaxy
Yes Yes Yes
Galaxies The Milky Way galaxy
Galaxy types: spiral, elliptical and and irregular
Comparison of Milky Way with other galaxies
Formation of the Milky Way
Galaxy interactions and mergers
Galaxy groups & clusters
Yes Yes
The Universe Galaxy surveys
The large-scale structure of the Universe
The role of Dark Matter in the Universe
Computer modelling of the Universe
Yes Yes

 

Our core programs cover Years 3 – 12 across the following domains of the curriculum:


Physical, Personal & Social Learning 

  • Interpersonal Development
  • Personal Learning

Discipline-based Learning 

  • Art
  • History
  • Geography
  • Science
  • Mathematics

Interdisciplinary Learning

  • Communication
  • Design, Creativity & Technology
  • Information & Communications Technology (ICT)
  • Thinking

 

Year 3-6

  • Day and Night (Geography, Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Seasons (Geography, Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Shadows (Geography, Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Constellations & Celestial Navigation (Geography, Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • The Solar System (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • History of observatories & Telescopes (History, Geography, Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Life and the Sun (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Scale of things in the Solar System (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)

 

 Year 7-8

  • Gravity, Forces, Light & Optics, Electricity & Magnetism, Heat & Energy (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Gravity on other planets (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Basics of Telescopes (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • History of observatories & Telescopes (History, Geography, Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • The Sun (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • In-depth journey to the planets of the Solar System (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Scale of things in the Solar System (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Scale of the Universe (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)

 

 Year 9-12

  • Classical Mechanics, Light & Optics, Electricity & Magnetism, Heat & Energy, Particle Physics (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • The Electromagnetic Spectrum (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • History of observatories & Telescopes (History, Geography, Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Different types of telescopes (Geography, Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Life cycle of Stars (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Radio Astronomy (History, Geography, Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Space exploration – past, present, future  (History, Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Scientific Notation (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Galaxies & the Milk Way (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Galaxies in the Universe (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Large scale structure of the Universe  (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Black Holes and exotic astrophysical objects (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • The very small – an introduction of particle physics (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Cosmology and the Early Universe (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Extrasolar planets (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Introduction to Astrophysics (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Computers & Science (Science, Mathematics, Thinking)

 

ACTIVITIES

The Observatory has put together a few hands-on activities, that allow students to learn some of the practical uses of astronomy and also think about some interesting concepts that arise in astronomy. Some of the activities include

  • Make a bush clock (Year 3-12) (Personal Learning, Art, Geography, Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Make a Sundial (Year 3-12) (Personal Learning, Art, Geography, Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Using Pipehenge to understand seasons (Year 3-12) (Personal Learning, Geography, Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Toilet paper Solar System  (Year 3-6) (Personal Learning, Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • First Contact – Alien’s say Hello  (Year 3-12) (Interpersonal Development, Personal Learning, Art, Science, Mathematics, Communication, Design/Creativity/Technology, Thinking)
  • Flag for a Planet  (Year 3-12) (Interpersonal Development, Personal Learning, Art, Science, Mathematics, Communication, Design/Creativity/Technology, Thinking)
  • Making a Model of the Constellations (Year 3-6) (Personal Learning, Art, Science, Mathematics,  Design/Creativity/Technology, Thinking)
  • Finding your Latitude (Year 5-12)  (Personal Learning, Art, Science, Mathematics, Thinking)
  • Virtual Sky (Science, Mathematics, ICT, Thinking)

 

PROGRAM (Daytime)
– Tour of the observatory’s historic telescopes, Pipehenge, Camera Obscura, NASA Radio Jove Telescope.

– Safe Solar viewing (weather permitting)

– 3D Astro Tours

– Optional 30 minute lecture on a particular area of astronomy

Program can be suited to cover specific topics if required.

 

PROGRAM (night time)

– Tour of the observatory’s historic telescopes, camera obscura, Pipehenge,  NASA Radio Jove Telescope.

– 3D Astro Tours

– Visual guide of the Night Sky and constellations (weather permitting)

– Viewing at the telescopes (weather permitting)

– Optional 30 minute lecture on a particular area of astronomy

Program can be suited to cover specific topics if required.

RESOURCES

* Understanding seasonal change.

Understanding seasonal change.  A Universal Nomenclature of the Equinoxes and Solstices Flyer 20th July 2022  

Nomenclature of the Equinoxes and Solstices Explanation 2022

 

* Space Science Meet Jarli, the Australian girl who is heading for the stars! Jarli was created with pioneering animation techniques in a collaboration between Air Force and UTS Animal Logic Academy. Jarli’s story of ingenuity and determination aims to inspire the next generation of bright minds to reach for the stars with an education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

 

To speak with our Science & Education Officer call: 0429 199 312

 

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