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Frequently Asked Questions about A Week in the United States

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Question: How many lesson plans?

On the website it says that text of three lesson plan(s) with activities and stories is required. Further down the page it then says the text of three lessons (or variations of the same lesson), with activities and stories, which you would like to present to (1) students, (2) teachers, and (3) and the public is needed.

So to clarify: Do I need to hand in 3 lesson plans, one for students, a different one for teachers, and another one for the public (total of 3 texts), or do I need to hand in 3 lesson plans, each of which is then subdivided again into 3 sub-texts for students, teachers, and the public (making it a total of 3x3=9 texts)?

Answer: You need a lesson that can be presented in three different situations or three different lessons, one for each situation. This is your choice. For instance, you can present a lesson on "the search for new worlds" that you show us can be adjusted for the three situations, or you can present three different topics: for example "the search for new worlds" for students, "stellar evolution" for teachers, and "mythology in the stars" for the public. Most applicants for our other contest (trip to Italy) have opted for one lesson adjusted for the three venues. These topics are just examples.

Question: Is there an example lesson?

Do you have example lesson texts of past winners? Is the approach correct in that I set anabstract, teaching goal, method, summary and conclusion? I am wondering about this, because as it states on the webpage the texts will be given to teachers and students. The result is they will know everything even before the lesson is given to them. (What one would call a “spoiler” in TV and movie business.) Should I leave out the methods part, so that there is still a surprise element during the lesson?

Answer: The format of the lesson plan is flexible on purpose to allow for creativity and for us to learn about the different approaches applicants take to designing a lesson plan.

The statement "The preliminary text of the lesson is required so that teachers will have ample time to work with their students before the experience" that appears on the website is not so that teachers can give the lesson to the students to read, but rather for the teacher to decide if the students need any advance preparation to get the most out of the lesson.  

If you are the contest winner, advance directives from you can also be given so the lesson is not spoiled. The lesson you write is a "preliminary" version and may morph as you communicate with the host ahead of time via email and as you work with the students and their questions.

Question: How long?

How many pages/words are recommended for the lesson texts?

Answer: There is no set recommendation for the length of the written lesson. Again, your judgment about what is long enough to be thorough and not repetitive is important. We know that lessons are fluid, depending on the reaction of the audience. We do, of course, want to be able to judge if the facts/concepts you are planning to present are scientifically correct.

Question: How do I prepare?

As I need to prepare the lesson (plans) in such a way that they can be presented in a planetarium (I assume?), I was wondering about the following: Let’s assume I prepare 3 texts with 3 completely different topics. In any case, just one will be selected for the 45 minute presentation, correct?

Answer: You may be asked to give a lesson in the planetarium or a presentation with activity(s) in an auditorium or library or some other venue with no planetarium, so a PowerPoint is a good idea.  

If you prepare three different lessons, that would give the host a bigger choice as to which lessons to have you present for various audiences. You and the host would work together to decide if just one is needed or if the others could be used too.

Question: What about the planetarium integration?

For the presentation of the lesson, do I have to take into account the software of the hosting planetarium (e.g. Digistar, Uniview, etc.) Does the lesson need to be prepared using specific software, or can I use PowerPoint, etc.?

Answer: For this application, you do not need to be concerned with which projection system will be used; the host(s) will operate the planetarium under your direction and you can work together to make the lesson run smoothly.


29 September 2016

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