AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 135 Making Astronomy Real
Oral, Thursday, January 8, 2004, 2:00-3:30pm, Regency V

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[135.01] Teachers doing Binary Star Observations for the United States Naval Observatory

J. W. Wilson (Georgia State University)

During the summer of 2002 seven science teachers made observations of visual binary stars listed as "neglected" in the Washington Double Star Catalog (WDS) maintained at the United States Naval Observatory (USNO). In the "Binary Star Project" these teachers took CCD images of binary stars with a B&C 16 inch telescope at Georgia State University's Hard Labor Creek Observatory. Updated position angles and angular separations were measured and submitted to USNO. These data are now included as part of the WDS and the teachers written manuscripts are now archived at the USNO library.

The purpose of this project was to give science teachers an opportunity to do some real science. The National Science Education Standards are encouraging science teachers to to use scientific inquiry as part of their pedagogy. However, most science teachers have never actually done any scientific research. One goal of this project was to provide science teachers with the opportunity to do some basic astronomy research that would make an authentic contribution to scientific knowledge. Thus, giving them some needed experience doing a scientific investigation. A second purpose was to couple this research with historical astronomy to do explicit instruction on the nature of science and scientific inquiy. By doing this, additional astronomy content was covered, which included Kepler's Laws, the Sun, and Stellar Evolution.

The experiences of these teachers and their binary star results will be presented.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.