AAS 197, January 2001
Session 87. Innovations in Teaching Astronomy II
Joint Display, Wednesday, January 10, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

[Previous] | [Session 87] | [Next]

[87.19] Computer Spreadsheet Recreations of Historical Astronomical Observations

M.H. Slovak, M.I. Kingham (LSU)

We have created two series of computer based undergraduate astronomy laboratory exercises (one for the solar system and one for stars and galaxies). These exercises are built around key historical observations that provided critical evidence to advance astronomical thought, such as Galileo's observations of the phases of Venus or Roemer's clever estimate of the speed of light using the Galilean satellites of Jupiter. These labs are self-contained, providing the necessary data in tabular form or connected to appropriate Contemporary Laboratory Experiences in Astronomy (CLEA) labs to simulate data acquistion. They serve as a robust set of poor weather exercises to complement actual telescope based observing labs.

We targeted a ubiquitous spreadsheet program (MS Excel) as our primary software analysis tool because of its nearly universal installation in campus computer classrooms and since it requires only a rudimentary computer facility to use successfully. We have tested and modified these labs in the context of our undergraduate astronomy labs which are open to all majors with a minimum of prerequisites. Students show an increased retention for topics often only briefly covered in lecture classes and a greater appreciation of the process by which a scientist mathematically models experimental data.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.phys.lsu.edu/faculty/slovak/astro1108.html. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

[Previous] | [Session 87] | [Next]