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Paper: Teaching Astronomy with an Inquiry Activity on Stellar Populations
Volume: 436, Learning from Inquiry In Practice
Page: 108
Authors: Rafelski, M.; Foley, M.; Graves, G. J.; Kretke, K. A.; Mills, E.; Nassir, M.; Patel, S.
Abstract: We describe a new inquiry design aimed at teaching advanced high-school to senior college students the basics of stellar populations. The inquiry is designed to have students come up with their own version of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram as a tool to understand how stars evolve based on their color, mass, and luminosity. The inquiry makes use of pictures and spectra of stars, which the students analyze and interpret to answer the questions they come up with at the beginning. The students undergo a similar experience to real astronomers, using the same tools and methods to figure out the phenomena they are trying to understand. Specifically, they use images and spectra of stars, and organize the data via tables and plots to find trends that will then enable them to answer their questions. The inquiry also includes a “thinking tool” to help connect the trends students observe to the larger picture of stellar evolution. We include a description of the goals of the inquiry, the activity description, the motivations and thoughts that went into the design of the inquiry, and reflections on how the inquiry activity worked in practice.
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