Promoting perspective-taking in astronomy by casting images from a phone or tablet up unto a screen
Keywords:casting devices, diurnal cycle, eclipses, phases of the Moon, planetary motion, seasons, smartphones and tablets, spatial abilities
Astronomy is a spatial science that requires connecting and comparing different points of view on astronomical systems to understand their complex mechanisms. Textbooks’ illustrations often fail to provide such connections, whereas 3D models of astronomical systems that students can “manipulate” are more conducive to learning. But providing learners with different perspectives simultaneously on an astronomical model can be difficult. One way to achieve this goal is by using a smartphone’s or tablet’s camera to capture the geocentric point of view, and sending the image in real-time via a casting device on a TV monitor or projecting a video image on a screen for all students to see. This way, learners can easily switch from their own “space-based” (i.e., allocentric) perspective on the model to what an observer on Earth (i.e., the view captured by the camera) would see at the same time. In this Best practice paper, presented principally as a resource for educators, we review the relevant literature on teaching astronomy with concrete models and promote classroom activities that use cameras, casting devices and projectors to teach the diurnal cycle, the phases of the Moon and eclipses, the seasons, and planetary motion.