AAS 197, January 2001
Session 86. Innovations in Teaching Astronomy I
Joint Display, Wednesday, January 10, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[86.08] Teaching Planetary Science: Beyond ``March of the Planets"

N.M. Schneider (LASP, U. Colorado)

The teaching of planetary science in ``Astro 101" is typically undertaken in a very different fashion than that used for most other subjects in the course. In particular, planets are often taught one-by-one, with a greater emphasis on factual information and memorization. The underlying concepts of planetary physics are therefore de-emphasized. One need only compare typical exam questions about Mars vs. questions on stellar evolution to test this assertion. The shallow coverage of planetary science often leads instructors to become disinterested, and leads students to incorrect conclusions about what's important in science.

Planetary science has matured dramatically in the past two decades, allowing the subject to be taught at a more conceptual (and satisfying) level. Although planets are not yet as predictable as stars, broad rules have emerged that govern their formation, their geology, atmospheres and even habitability. This poster will outline simple changes you can make to update your curriculum to bring planetary science up to the standards of the rest of the course.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: nick.schneider@lasp.colorado.edu

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