AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 23. Astronomy Education
Display, Monday, January 7, 2002, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[23.16] A ``Real World'' Web-Based Laboratory Exercise for the Introductory Astronomy Course

R. J. Thompson (McMurry University)

An astronomy laboratory exercise has been developed which utilizes sun and moon data acquired through the Weather Underground website. By collecting data on sun and moon rise and set times for cities distributed widely across the country, students are able to observe the effects of longitude and latitude on these properties. They are also able to explore such topics as the rotation rate of the earth, the orbital motion and phases of the moon, the effects of latitude on the length of day, and the need for time zones. By having students first predict the outcomes of their investigations and then compare them to their eventual results, they are clearly confronted by their own misconceptions and misunderstandings. The fact that the data are timely (i.e., for the particular day of the lab) and are for places with which they may be familiar lends more of a ``real world" feel to the exercise than can be achieved with a pencil-and-paper or a celestial globe lab. This poster will present the details of the laboratory exercise along with an analysis of the results from its first use.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: rthompson@mcmurry.mcm.edu

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