AAS Meeting #194 - Chicago, Illinois, May/June 1999
Session 70. Astronomy and Education
Display, Wednesday, June 2, 1999, 10:00am-6:30pm, Southwest Exhibit Hall

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[70.17] Great IDEAS: Telescopes, Computers, and Education

M. A. Nook (St. Cloud State University), D. L. Williams (Apollo High School, St. Cloud, MN)

Two workshops were developed for k-12 teachers that take advantage of the excitement students esperience when viewing objects through a telescope for the first time and the growth in educational opportunities that the internet has generated. The observational astronomy workshop focused on teaching educators a few basics about naked-eye, binocular, and small telescope observing; while the computers in astronomy education workshop taught teachers to develop simple web sites and permitted them to test astronomy software.

The observational astronomy workshop met for three days on the SCSU campus to teach basic celestial motions, several constellations, and the basic operation of small telescopes. The next four nights were spent at Camden State Park in southwest Minnesota learning to locate deep sky objects and preparing public presentations. The final two nights the teachers presented public observing programs at three state parks. Fifty percent of the teachers implemented night observing into their curriculum this past year, and one teacher purchased her own telescope to use with students and to help other teachers in the district.

The computers in astronomy workshop introduced the teachers to several commercially available astronomy software packages and taught them the fundamentals of constructing simple web pages. The participants were required to develop astronomy lessons based on one of the software packages or a web site that they developed. Each participant then constructed a web-based lesson plan, student lesson, and teacher's guide for their lesson. These lessons are available at http://enstein.stcloudstate.edu/nook/IDEAS/computers/.

Support for this work was provided by NASA through grant numbers ED-90156.01-97A and ED-90157.01-97A from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Incorporated, under NASA contract NAS5-26555.

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