AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 96 Astronomy Education: K-12
Poster, Wednesday, January 12, 2005, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[96.07] Chandra X-ray Data Analysis in Educational Environments

T. Matilsky (Physics Dep't., Rutgers U.), E Etkina (Grad. School of Ed., Rutgers U.), K. Lestition (Chandra X-ray Center, CfA), E. Mandel, W. Joye (CfA)

Recent progress in both software and remote connectivity capabilities have made it possible for authentic data analysis tasks to be presented in a wide range of educational venues. No longer are precollege teachers and students, and interested members of the public limited by their lack of access to the scientific workstations and UNIX-based imaging and analytical software used by the research community.

Through a suite of programs that couples a simplified graphical user interface using the "DS9" imaging software with a "virtual observatory" capability that processes the analytical algorithms used by X-ray astronomers, we can access archived Chandra observations and generate images, as well as light curves, energy spectra, power spectra and other common examples of science tasks. The system connects to a remote UNIX server, but the user may be sited on a PC or Mac platform. Furthermore, the use of VNC (a remote desktop display environment) allows a teacher to view, comment on and debug any analysis task in real time, from anywhere in the world, and across any computer platform. This makes these programs especially useful in distance learning settings.

We have developed, tested and used these capabilities in a wide variety of educational arenas, from 4 week intensive courses in X-ray astronomy research techniques for precollege students and teachers, to one day teacher enrichment workshops, to modules of classroom activities suitable for precollege grade levels, using a variety of cosmic X-ray sources. Examples using archived Chandra observations will be presented demonstrating the flexibility and usefulness of these resources.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: matilsky@physics.rutgers.edu

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© 2004. The American Astronomical Society.