AAS 200th meeting, Albuquerque, NM, June 2002
Session 13. Astronomy Education
Display, Monday, June 3, 2002, 9:20am-6:30pm, SW Exhibit Hall

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[13.07] Learner Centered Introductory Astronomy Community College Course

C. J. Sprague (Central Arizoan College), M. R. Grill (Phoenix University and Cental Arizona College), C. L. Genet, R. M. Genet (Central Arizona College and the Orion Institute)

In the fall of 2001, learner centered education principles were applied to an introductory astronomy course at the Superstition Mountain Campus of Central Arizona College (CAC). The course was cooperatively designed and managed by the students themselves (especially Sprague and Grill), an assistant course facilitator (C. Genet), and the course instructor and developer (R. Genet). Although some time was devoted to lectures accompanied by photographic slides and open to the public, the bulk of the time was devoted to student projects. Students built telescopes, including solar, zenith, and Galileo, took measurements, made calculations, mapped stars, and determined the circumference of the earth via zenith observations at Apache Junction and at Mt. Hopkins, 120 miles away. A three-day field trip to Lowell Observatory included a tour, observations through the famous 24-inch Clark refractor, and a conference on “Undergraduate Astronomical Research” which included talks on stellar photometry by G. W. Lockwood and R. M. Genet. A second three-day field trip included a tour and observations at Kitt Peak National Observatory (0.4 m telescope), a tour of the observatories on Mt. Hopkins, and a conference on “Learner-Centered Astronomy Education.” The community college students were joined by doctoral students and alumni from the Union Institute and University, as well as by Campua Dean James Stuckey from CAC and his wife Beverly Santos of Northern Arizona University. By allowing students the freedom to explore and expand their knowledge at a rate appropriate to each individual, the students attained levels of confidence not found in traditional teaching styles. We are pleased to acknowledge Dean Stuckey who made this class possible. We also wish to thank Wesley Lockwood and Robert Bargoon at Lowell Observatory, Robert Wilson at Kitt Peak National Observatory, and Daniel Brocious at the Smithsonian’s Whipple Observatory for their invaluable assistance during our field trips.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: Sprague326@aol.com, cgenet@msn.com, or russmgenet@aol.com

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.