Oct 21-Dec 13, 2019
Credit: 1 graduate
Instructor(s): Jason Marcks

Course Description

Registration begins on March 25th - please register for CRN 25094.
The Sun rises, the Sun sets. There must be more to life than that.

There is. The patterns of day and night - of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars - are complex and wonderful. Some are very easy to figure out if you have the right tools; others take a bit of practice. All can be studied at different levels, and so can be used for different grade levels and for the focus of scientific inquiry.

This course is intended for elementary school teachers who use hands-on curricula. The topics include the Moon and lunar phases, patterns and changes in the night sky, the Sun’s appearance over the day and over the year at different locations on Earth, and some keys to understanding the surface patterns of planets and other worlds in our Solar System. Throughout the course are ways of learning about student ideas, limitations, and misconceptions. Each week, participants work through a selection of activities and contribute to asynchronous online discussions. The available activities focus on each week’s topic, but each participant is encouraged to choose activities that will best contribute to her or his own learning and teaching needs. Many of the activities parallel student activities in popular space science curriculum kits, though most are geared for adult learners. At the same time, participants experience a long-term observation-based inquiry. Discussions provide a way for participants to learn about a wide assortment of activities, exchange tips and ideas, and bounce thoughts and questions off colleagues as they work through their own understandings.

Participants examine and deepen their own understanding of space science, uncover and correct misunderstandings, and explore different ways of learning particular topics. In doing so, participants gain skills to support inquiry-based learning and guided kit use among their students. Resources include a Teacher’s Guide, star wheel, and access to templates participants and their students can use to make tools to understand space science. Internet resources are used throughout the course. Activities use household materials.

Meeting Place and Times

Teachers login to the course at a time of day that best fits their schedule. It is necessary to connect at least 4 - 6 times per week to stay current and successfully complete this 1 credit course.


Jason Marcks, MS, MAS, ATP.
Jason is a former high school Earth and space science teacher having spent several years teaching at Estes Park High School in Estes Park, Colorado. After leaving the traditional classroom he spent a decade as the Executive Director of Space Education Initiatives a non profit organization dedicated to improving STEM education through the excitement of spaceflight. He continues his education work as a consultant and also acts as an instructor pilot for Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation training newly hired pilots to fly CL-65 regional jets.


Bachelor's degree and preferably teacher certification with one year of teaching experience.

Target Audience

This course is designed for teachers of grades K-6. Others are welcome but labs and other activities are appropriate for K-6 classrooms.

Time Commitment:

6-8 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

If you are accepted into a qualified online program, see the appropriate MSU Online Only Tuition and Fee table below:

If you are also taking a face-to-face course, please refer to the MSU Fee Schedules.

Required Books/Materials

  • All required materials will be online.

Computer Requirements:

  • Internet access
  • A device and browser that pass the system check for Brightspace LE, MSU's learning management system.

This course uses a learning management system. You will learn more closer to the course start date.

For More Information

Contact Jason Marcks at for questions regarding course content, or Kelly Boyce at for questions about registration policies.

How to Register

You must be accepted as a student to Montana State University to take this course.

Learn how to apply.

After your application has been accepted, you will register via MSU's online registration system, MyInfo.

Registration requires a PIN number. Learn how to find your PIN.

Once you have your PIN, learn how to register through MyInfo.