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The heart of this poster paper is the screening of the new 25-minute educational video, ``Annie and the Stars of Many Colors.'' It explores the life and work of Annie Jump Cannon through the eyes of sixth-grade students. A production of the Science Media Group at the CfA, the video was created to interest and inspire girls and minorities, in particular, to continue their study of history and physical science in high school.
Recent studies show that science teachers are successfully using videotapes in the classroom to supplement traditional methods of teaching. Other reports show that capable girls and minority students tend to drop science in high school. Our goal, then, was to create a video to stimulate the curiosity and natural interest in science of these younger students.
With the help of the Public Affairs Office at the CfA, we arranged to visit local schools to talk to sixth-grade science teachers and their students about the video project. Boys and girls were both eager to participate in it. By lottery, we chose a dozen youngsters of multi-cultural backgrounds to attend a three-day workshop, during which we videotaped them discovering facts about Cannon's childhood and career.
Barbara Welther, historian and principal investigator, took the group to the Harvard University Archives to look at some Cannon memorabilia. To learn about spectra, each student assembled a spectroscope from a kit and observed solar lines. CfA astronomers then led the group in various activities to explore the types of stellar spectra that Cannon classified and published in The Henry Draper Catalogue 75 years ago.% and that astronomers still study today.
``Annie and the Stars of Many Colors'' shows young people actively engaged in the process of discovery and offers teachers a novel tool to stimulate discussion of topics in science, history, women's studies, and careers. It is intended for use in schools, libraries, museums, planetariums, as well as for personal interest. For more information and/or a copy of the videotape, contact the authors at the CfA, Cambridge, MA.
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