AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 44 Astronomy Education with Radio Waves and Music
Oral, Monday, 10:00-11:30am, January 9, 2006, Balcony B

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[44.03] A Radio Astronomy Curriculum for STARLAB

D. Boltuch, L. Hund (Furman University), S. Buck, C. Fultz, T. Smith, R. Harris (UNC-Asheville), M. W. Castelaz (PARI), D. Moffett (Furman University), M. LaFratta, L. Walsh (UNC-Asheville)

We present elements of a curriculum that will accompany the STARLAB module “Sensing the Radio Sky” a portable planetarium program and projection of the radio sky. The curriculum will serve to familiarize high school students to a set of topics in radio astronomy. The curriculum includes lessons and activities addressing several topics related to radio astronomy and the Milky Way that consists of two main resources: a manual and a multimedia website. It is designed to accommodate a wide variety of possible uses and time constraints. The manufacturer of STARLAB, Learning Technologies, Inc. produces a short manual to accompany each presentation for the STARLAB. The “Sensing the Radio Sky” manual we have created includes the mandatory, minimum background information that students need to understand radio astronomy. It briefly discusses waves and electromagnetic radiation, similarities and differences between optical and radio astronomy, probable misconceptions about radio astronomy, how radio images are produced, synchrotron radiation in the Milky Way, and galactic coordinates. It also includes a script that presenters can choose to follow inside the STARLAB, a lesson plan for teachers, and activities for students to complete before and after the STARLAB experience that mirror the scientific method. The multimedia website includes more detailed information about electromagnetic radiation and a more detailed comparison of optical and radio astronomy. It also discusses the life cycles of stars, radiation from a variety of specific sources, and pulsars, as each relates to radio astronomy. The five highly detailed lessons are pulled together in sixth “overview lesson”, intended for use by teachers who want to present more than the basic material in the manual, but do not have the classroom time to teach all five of the in-depth lessons. . We acknowledge support from the NSF Internship in Public Science Education Program grant number 0324729.

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