• Mission of the National Center for Elementary Astronomy Studies

    The National Center for Elementary Astronomy Studies is a professional collaborative center for developing understanding through the exploration of the elementary role in astronomy studies and science education. Our Oakland Unified School District and Burckhalter Elementary School program’s mission is to allow our youngest students to discover, practice, and share the beauty, joy, and wonder of astronomy and related studies, and to communicate our discoveries through collaboration by sharing our own findings, and through an exchange of ideas with others. Our work seeks to contribute to the advancement of elementary astronomy programmatic implementation to the highest possible level.

    In addition to the Professional Collaborative Center, our School of Astronomy Studies offers an interdisciplinary, astronomy and related studies program for students from transitional kindergarten through grade 5. Our focus is the practical implementation of elementary astronomy studies for all students, including underserved populations. Our program features both “In School,” and “Out-of-School” components as defined by the National Research Council and the Academies of Sciences and Engineering. Our “In School” program provides classes during the regular school day, while our “Out of School” components include an after school study group, and a variety of special events.

    The NCEAS not only draws from existing accepted teaching methods and practices, but we also offer an innovative, effective supplemental programmatic vision. This includes projects and perspectives for the purpose of furthering the progress of astronomy and related studies educational practices. For example, as an alternative to the traditional approach of beginning formal astronomy study in college, our structured program begins at age four. We recognize the importance of early education by honoring our youngest students through a respect for their capabilities and dreams. By providing them with the highest quality educational and connectivity opportunities, we increase the chances of wonderful transformative development to occur. This work, in part, informs our development toward advancing elementary astronomy practices.

    We collaborate with professional and amateur astronomers, astronomy and related organizations, and interested partners from a variety of backgrounds. Founded in 2005, we offer the astronomy education community unique perspectives from a wealth of practical experience in implementing lessons, curriculum, procedures, and special events for elementary students. We host collaborative Education and Public Outreach (EPO) events, and we welcome astronomers to join us. Guest presenters will discover a warm, supportive environment and wonderful students to work with.

    Our instructional program is varied and balanced. Extending beyond STEM and STEAM, we are a STREAMS program. This includes social sciences and language arts, with an emphasis on literacy. We continue to search for the finest educational curriculum and projects available, and we create original lessons, projects, and activities. Astronomers and space science professionals of all levels and other interested organizations or individuals including those with visionary ideas who are interested in participating at the National and International forefront of elementary astronomy education are invited to contact us. We welcome an exchange of ideas, talents, skills, resources, or partnership.

    Our home is Room 15 of the Oakland Unified School District’s Burckhalter Elementary School in Oakland, California. The school was named after far-reaching astronomer Charles Burckhalter, the first Director of the Chabot Observatory in Oakland, and a cofounder and past president of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. We, in a similar spirit and tradition as Mr. Burckhalter, are dedicated to passing on the beauty, joy, and wonder of astronomy to our next generation of students, not only here in Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area, but to our National and International partners.

  • John Panogos

    Mr. John Panagos

    Founder and Director,
    National Center for Elementary Astronomy Studies at Burckhalter Elementary School

    Personal Bio 

    3994 Burckhalter Ave.
    Oakland, CA 94605

    510-729-7700
    john.panagos@ousd.org