AAS 200th meeting, Albuquerque, NM, June 2002
Session 81. Astronomy Education and Public Outreach
Oral, Thursday, June 6, 2002, 10:00-11:30am, Mesilla

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[81.04] Incorporating Service Learning into the Introductory Astronomy Course

K. Mukherjee (Slippery Rock University)

The introductory Astronomy course can be enriched by adding a service learning component to it. This enables students to interact with and educate the general public about matters of outer space. At Slippery Rock University we have incorporated this idea into our Astronomy and Space Science courses. Working in groups, the students do a presentation which is often interdisciplinary. Frequently the department gets requests from schools to do a show specifically tailored to a topic like the solar system or constellations. Such projects are beneficial to students in many ways. They demand a thorough knowledge of the subject matter so as to communicate to the audience in a clear and nontechnical manner. The students also experience first hand the difficulties involved in coordinating a group effort. They learn to take responsibility for their allocated part and how to combine effectively to make the entire show a success. Interacting with various age groups demands a versatility in planning content and public speaking skills not easily available elsewhere in a traditional education. Our planetarium facilities help in attracting diverse audiences from preschoolers to senior citizens. Performance in these shows constitutes twenty five percent of course grade. Feedback from audience groups helps refine future shows by subsequent student cohorts.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.