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Paper: The Evolution of Inquiry Activities in the Akamai Observatory Short Course, 2004–2009
Volume: 436, Learning from Inquiry In Practice
Page: 355
Authors: Rice, E. L.; McElwain, M.; Sonnett, S.; Rafelski, M.
Abstract: The Akamai Observatory Short Course (AOSC) is a five-day course of activities designed to prepare college students majoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields for internships at observatories on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. The design and implementation of inquiry-based activities in the AOSC have evolved considerably over the six years of the course. The content goals have always focused on the basic understanding of light and optics necessary to understand telescopes, but the scientific process goals gradually evolved to reflect the increasingly recognized importance of engineering design skills for successful observatory internships. In 2004 the inquiry-based activities were limited to one well-established Color, Light, and Spectra activity. In subsequent years more activities were customized and expanded upon to reflect the learners' diverse academic backgrounds, the developing goals of the short course, and feedback from internship hosts. The most recent inquiry, the Design and Build a Telescope activity, engaged students in designing and building a simple telescope, emphasizing science and engineering process skills in addition to science content. This activity was influenced by the Mission Design activity, added in 2006, that incorporated the application of inquiry-based learning to the engineering design process and allowed students to draw upon their diverse prior knowledge and experience. In this paper we describe the inquiry-based activities in the AOSC in the context of its year-to-year evolution, including the conceptual and pragmatic changes to the short course that influenced the evolution.
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