Galileo and Heliocentrism

Matthew and I recently attended the Oklahoma State Department of Education conference, Vision 2020, hoping to listen and learn from K-12 educators about how they educate. In the process we met several wonderful educators and had many exciting conversations. By the end we were more convinced than ever that the OU Academy of the Lynx will help educators do what they love to do…inspire minds and shape imaginations!

Already we are thankful for the positive feedback we have received from K-12 educators who are excited to partner with us to develop, organize, and curate high-quality digital resources that can be used simultaneously to enhance the educational experience of the History of Science Exhibitions as well as classroom instruction. With their help the lesson plans and activities that have withstood the tests of time will be supplemented by incorporating a historical component. Our goal is not to reinvent the wheel, but to demonstrate the wheel’s invention, and help educators create situations in which the students can experience and participate in its invention! In the process, we hope to help educators make real historical connections among sister disciplines, such as “science,” “mathematics,” and “engineering,” as well as across the seemingly large  “science” and “humanities” divide.


Now that we have our Educator Workplace wiki fully functional, we are beginning to craft lesson plans to do just this. For our first lesson, we are going to incorporate Galileo’s observations of the phases of Venus into a lesson about the heliocentric model of the universe. The story of Galileo, his telescope, and his observations of Jupiter and the Moon is a common one. But, did you know he also made observations of the phases of Venus that helped to overthrow the ancient Ptolemaic, earth-centered universe? A lesson that incorporates Galileo’s observation is a great way to engage student’s reasoning skills, as well as demonstrate the use of a model in scientific reasoning.

As we write this, we would like your help! What activities have you done in your classroom to help your students understand the heliocentric universe? Have you incorporated a historical dimension to it? Would you like to add a historical dimension that includes Galileo? Please add your comments below, or go on over to our Educator Workplace to the “Eyes of Galileo” gallery to upload any lesson plans that you would like to enhance with a historical dimension.

Image: “Planets2013” by WP – Planets2008.jpg. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

This entry was posted in News and Events and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *