Starlight in the classroom: Enhancing student involvement in astronomy teaching

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)

Abstract

Since years, an astronomy introduction was taught to second year students in physics as a mixture of theory and exercises to learn to work with the equations and the derived laws. Students were well trained but showed little enthusiasm during the class. This year we replaced the exercises by a series of tutorials in which the students have to gather their own data with a robotic telescope in New Mexico and a virtual one. The data are then analyzed using the theoretical concepts. The approach is that of inquiry-based learning in a contextual setting.
For the purpose of the tutorials we set up Astrolab, a room specifically designed for astronomy work. It has astronomy elements such as a radio-steered world clock, astronomy posters and sudent work places arranged in control tables with multiple computer screens.
The set-up of the tutorial uses several concepts from popular computer games: ownership (students chose their own object and gather their own data) , suspense (the telescope is located in another part of the world, the telescope time is granted in one-hour blocks), failure and success (weather conditions, good/bad strategy to obtain data, a precise goal reachable in steps), community membership (data can be shared world-wide).
A student inquiry showed high scores for challenge, teamwork, intellectual stimulus, and enthusiasm for astronomy. We observed that the constructive inquiry-based approach leads to more student involvement and a greater willingness to acquire supporting knowledge through self-study.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEUPEN's 10th Jubilee General Forum - EGF2008
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2008
EventFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 21 Sep 200925 Sep 2009

Publication series

NameEUPEN's 10th Jubilee General Forum - EGF2008

Conference

ConferenceFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet
CountrySweden
CityStockholm
Period21/09/0925/09/09

Keywords

  • outreach

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