Name: Carlos Augusto Ferreira

Type: MSc dissertation

Publication date: 23/02/2018

Advisor:

Name | Role |
---|---|

Sergio Mascarello Bisch | Advisor * |

Examining board:

Name | Role |
---|---|

Luiz Otávio Buffon | External Examiner * |

Sergio Mascarello Bisch | Advisor * |

Thiéberson da Silva Gomes | Internal Examiner * |

Summary: The purpose of the research was to develop and assess a Potentially Meaningful Teaching Unit (PMTU) for the teaching of Astronomy in High School, having as basic theme the methods of measuring distances in Astronomy. The PMTU has been implemented in two parts. The first, with a group of 28 students from the Centro Educacional Charles Darwin of Guarapari, ES, about the technique of determining the circumference of the Earth used by the Greek philosopher Eratosthenes. The second, with a group of 22 students from the Centro Estadual do Ensino Médio em Tempo Integral São Pedro, Vitória, ES, about techniques of measurements of distances to celestial objetcs. The students of the Centro Educacional Charles Darwin attended the first year of high school, while students at the Centro Estadual do Ensino Médio em Tempo Integral São Pedro were enrolled in an elective course in which students from the three high school grades could matriculate. The main theoretical framework used in the preparation of the PMTU and assessment of the results was David Ausubel's Theory of Meaningful Learning. The main purpose of the PMTU is to answer the general question: "What is the size of the universe?. We attempted to elaborate the didactic sequence based on potentially meaningful activities and materials involving historical techniques to determine the Earth's radius, the distance from Earth to the Moon, the distance from Earth to the Sun, the use of the magnitude system, the use of Cepheid variables as standard candles and the Hubble Law. During the application of the proposal were held classroom discussions around the activities developed, used motivational videos, as well as the Stellarium astronomical software. The structuring of the second part of the PMTU was planned following the application of a questionnaire that served to verify the prior knowledge of the students on the topics to be addressed. Analyzing the data collected through the questionnaires applied before and after the interventions, it was possible to ascertain signs of a meaningful learning, as in the case of students who did not know the parsec units and AU (astronomical unit) before the application of the didactic sequences. After the activities, they were able not only to convert these units to more conventional ones, such as meters and kilometers, but also to apply logarithms to calculate the distances of the Earth to the stars. The analysis also demonstrated difficulties in the teaching-learning process with respect to the "radian" unit, the waves concept and the understanding of light-year unity, indicating that some points in the sequence need to be reviewed and improved. A description of the objectives, structure, activities and the material used throughout the application of the PMTU are presented in the A and B appendices of this work, constituting a product that can serve as a reference for other teachers who wish to develop projects of astronomy teaching in Basic Education.