AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 44 Astronomy Education with Radio Waves and Music
Oral, Monday, 10:00-11:30am, January 9, 2006, Balcony B

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[44.01] NSF Internships in Public Science Education: Sensing the Radio Sky

L. Hund, D. Boltuch (Furman University), C. Fultz, S. Buck, T. Smith, R. Harris (UNC-Asheville), D. Moffett (Furman University), M. LaFratta, L. Walsh (UNC-Asheville), M. W. Castelaz (PARI)

The intent of the “Sensing the Radio Sky” project is to teach high school students the concepts and relevance of radio astronomy through presentations in STARLAB portable planetariums. The two year project began in the summer of 2004. A total of twelve interns and four faculty mentors from Furman University and UNCA have participated at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute to develop the Radio Sky project. The project united physics and multimedia majors and allowed these students to apply their knowledge of different disciplines to a common goal. One component of the project is the development and production of a cylinder to be displayed in portable STARLAB planetariums. The cylinder gives a thorough view of the Milky Way and of several other celestial sources in radio wavelengths, yet these images are difficult to perceive without prior knowledge of radio astronomy. Consequently, the Radio Sky team created a multimedia presentation to accompany the cylinder. This multimedia component contains six informative lessons on radio astronomy assembled by the physics interns and numerous illustrations and animations created by the multimedia interns. The cylinder and multimedia components complement each other and provide a unique, thorough, and highly intelligible perspective on radio astronomy. The project is near completion and the final draft will be sent to Learning Technologies, Inc., for marketing to owners of STARLAB planetariums throughout the world. The development of the Radio Sky project has also provided a template for potential similar projects that examine our universe in different wavelengths, such as gamma ray, x-ray, and infrared. We acknowledge support from the NSF Internship in Public Science Education Program grant number 0324729.

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