Workshops for College Teachers of Introductory Astronomy

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Session 29 -- Education
Oral presentation, Monday, 9, 1995, 10:00am - 11:30am

[29.01] Workshops for College Teachers of Introductory Astronomy

S.J. Little, C.D. Garmany (CASA/U.Colorado), I.R. Little-Marenin (CASA/CU, Wellesley C.), G.S. Mumford (Tufts U.)

Since 1989 we have organized and taught five WORKSHOPS FOR TEACHERS OF INTRODUCTORY ASTRONOMY under the sponsorship of the NSF Undergraduate Faculty Enhancement program. The rational for these workshops is that many two- and four- year colleges offer elementary astronomy courses that are taught by instructors with little formal education in astronomy and who are at home institutions with poorly equipped laboratory facilities for either indoor laboratories or outdoor observing sessions. We have offered either two or three week workshops during the summers limited to 20 teachers with three or more years of teaching experience but no professional training in astronomy. The focus of these sessions was to offer a hands-on approach to laboratory work for both indoor labs and outdoor sky observations. We carried out a number of astronomy experiments followed by group discussions which was important in helping participants to decide how to use the materials at their home institutions. We also offered observing experience with small telescopes and brought in astronomers to discuss topics currently at the forefront of astronomical research. The material presented in the workshops has evolved over the years with much more emphasis given to computer labs, CCD observations and electronically available materials.

The workshops during the summers of 1989, 1991 and 1992 were held at Tufts University and used the observing facilities at Wellesley College. In 1993 and 1994 we held the workshops at the University of Colorado which allowed us to use the resources of Sommers-Bausch Observatory and Fiske Planetarium. We want to report on the development of these workshops, some statistical information about the participants and the implications that our experience with these workshops has for professional astronomers.

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