AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 88. Undergraduate Astronomy Instruction, Labs and Research
Poster, Wednesday, January 8, 2003, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall AB

[Previous] | [Session 88] | [Next]

[88.04] Real Scientific Research in Introductory Astronomy

C. A. Pilachowski (Indiana University), T. Rector (NRAO), S. Margheim (Indiana University)

Undergraduate students enrolled in a freshman seminar at Indiana University Bloomington were given the opportunity to participate in an ongoing research program with the WIYN 0.9-m telescope at Kitt Peak. Students analyzed digital images of the Andromeda Galaxy, taken over a span of more than five years, to discover novae as part of a program to determine the nova rate for Local Group galaxies. The course was designed to get non-majors to do real research, and in the process learn that science is a creative process and a way of thinking about nature, rather than mere memorization of a body of knowledge. Participating in all aspects of research, students formulated plans for their measurements and analysis, carried out their project, and presented their results to their peers. Students also participated in remote observing using video conferencing with on-site observers. Classroom computers running Scion Image software allowed each student to blink images of fields in Andromeda to identify novae, and to measure their magnitudes and celestial coordinates. Students wrote draft IAU circulars announcing their discoveries and research papers describing their results. The course is an extension of the nova search project in NOAO's Research Based Science Education program.

The course included an in-depth study of the evolution of stars to allow students to understand and interpret their results. In-class activities, many web or computer-based, allowed the students to explore astrophysical concepts in depth. Assigned reading, Just-in-Time questions, and brief, in-class lectures provided background content material to help the students learn from class activities.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: catyp@astro.indiana.edu

[Previous] | [Session 88] | [Next]

Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #4
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.