AAS 198th Meeting, June 2001
Session 30. Education and Instrumentation
Oral, Monday, June 4, 2001, 2:00-3:30pm, C212-214

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[30.01] ``Seeing" Infrared in Undergraduate Astronomy Courses

K. Brecher (Boston U.)

A recent survey which examined the topics taught in a representative sample of university introductory astronomy courses conducted by the AAS Education Office (Slater et. al., Physics Teacher, 39, 52, 2001) concluded that "...the electromagnetic spectrum was by far the most frequently cited topic." Given the growing importance of astronomical observations outside of the visible part of the spectrum, it is unfortunate that very little in the way of direct experience with longer and shorter wavelength radiation is provided to students. As part of our ongoing curriculum and materials development "Project LITE: Light Inquiry Through Experiments", we have designed novel lecture demonstrations and hands-on experiments which allow students to explore near-infrared radiation for themselves. These activities require only readily available inexpensive commercial photographic filters, webcams and IR sources such as infrared remote controls. In this presentation, we will show how these materials can be utilized within the framework of introductory astronomy lectures and laboratories to increase student understanding of non-visible astronomical observations and of the meaning of false color presentations of astronomical images.

This work was supported in part by NSF grant # DUE-9950551.

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