AAS 206th Meeting, 29 May - 2 June 2005
Session 2 Astronomy 101: something old, something new, something borrowed, something true
Poster, Monday, 9:20am-6:30pm, Tuesday, 10:00am-7:00pm, May 30, 2005, Ballroom A

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[2.06] Active Learning with Deep Images from the WIYN 3.5m Telescope

L. van Zee (Indiana University)

In an effort to integrate research and education in the undergraduate astronomy curriculum, a series of research-based homework problems have been developed for an advanced undergraduate course in extragalactic astrophysics. These assignments are designed to develop students' ability to interpret real data and to build students' research skills using standard astronomical software. Since the projects are assigned as homework problems, all students are engaged in the scientific process; furthermore, with a focus on data analysis, rather than data collection or processing, these projects provide an intermediary step between prescribed laboratory exercises and open-ended research projects. This poster presents an example of a series of homework assignments during which students investigate the `shape of the universe' based on galaxy number counts from deep images obtained with the WIYN 3.5m telescope. Of particular note is the 'working backward' nature of the assignments where the final result is derived during the first week of the project; during subsequent weeks, the students build on their newly developed research skills and get closer to the actual data (images) until, during the final week of the assignment, the students are able to create their own source catalogs, remove the stellar contaminants, and analyze log N - log S plots for their galaxy catalogs. By enabling all students to participate in the creative process of analyzing and interpreting scientific data, these research-based homework assignments provide unique training in both scientific content and the scientific process. Funded in part by NSF AST-0347929 and an Indiana University Active Learning Grant.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #2
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.