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Paper: A College-Level Inquiry-Based Laboratory Activity on Transiting Planets
Volume: 436, Learning from Inquiry In Practice
Page: 97
Authors: McConnell, N. J.; Medling, A. M.; Strubbe, L. E.; Moth, P.; Montgomery, R. M.; Raschke, L. M.; Hunter, L.; Goza, B. K.
Abstract: We have designed an inquiry-based laboratory activity on transiting extrasolar planets for an introductory college-level astronomy class. The activity was designed with the intent of simultaneously teaching science process skills and factual content about transits and light curves. In the activity, groups of two to four students each formulate a specific science question and design and carry out an investigation using a table-top model of a star and orbiting planet. Each group then presents their findings to other students in their class. In a final presentation, the instructors integrate students' findings with a summary of how measured light curves indicate properties of planetary systems. The activity debuted at Hartnell College in November 2009 and has also been adapted for a lecture-based astronomy course at U.C. Santa Cruz. We present the results of student surveys before and after the astronomy course at Hartnell and discuss how well our activity promotes students' confidence and identity as scientists, relative to traditional lab activities.
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