AAS 197, January 2001
Session 86. Innovations in Teaching Astronomy I
Joint Display, Wednesday, January 10, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[86.14] The Computational Science Education Reference Desk: A tool for increasing inquiry based learning in the science classroom

D. A. Joiner (Shodor Education Foundation), D. E. Stevenson (Clemson University), R. M. Panoff (Shodor Education Foundation)

The Computational Science Reference Desk is an online tool designed to provide educators in math, physics, astronomy, biology, chemistry, and engineering with information on how to use computational science to enhance inquiry based learning in the undergraduate and pre college classroom. The Reference Desk features a showcase of original content exploration activities, including lesson plans and background materials; a catalog of websites which contain models, lesson plans, software, and instructional resources; and a forum to allow educators to communicate their ideas.

Many of the recent advances in astronomy rely on the use of computer simulation, and tools are being developed by CSERD to allow students to experiment with some of the models that have guided scientific discovery. One of these models allows students to study how scientists use spectral information to determine the makeup of the interstellar medium by modeling the interstellar extinction curve using spherical grains of silicate, amorphous carbon, or graphite. Students can directly compare their model to the average interstellar extinction curve, and experiment with how small changes in their model alter the shape of the interstellar extinction curve. A simpler model allows students to visualize spatial relationships between the Earth, Moon, and Sun to understand the cause of the phases of the moon.

A report on the usefulness of these models in two classes, the Computational Astrophysics workshop at The Shodor Education Foundation and the Conceptual Astronomy class at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, will be presented.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.shodor.org/cserd. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: djoiner@shodor.org

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