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Paper: The Adaptive Optics Summer School Laboratory Activities
Volume: 436, Learning from Inquiry In Practice
Page: 394
Authors: Ammons, S. M.; Severson, S.; Armstrong, J. D.; Crossfield, I.; Do, T.; Fitzgerald, M.; Harrington, D.; Hickenbotham, A.; Hunter, J.; Johnson, J.; Johnson, L.; Li, K.; Lu, J.; Maness, H.; Morzinski, K.; Norton, A.; Putnam, N.; Roorda, A.; Rossi, E.; Yelda, S.
Abstract: Adaptive Optics (AO) is a new and rapidly expanding field of instrumentation, yet astronomers, vision scientists, and general AO practitioners are largely unfamiliar with the root technologies crucial to AO systems. The AO Summer School (AOSS), sponsored by the Center for Adaptive Optics, is a week-long course for training graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the underlying theory, design, and use of AO systems. AOSS participants include astronomers who expect to utilize AO data, vision scientists who will use AO instruments to conduct research, opticians and engineers who design AO systems, and users of high-bandwidth laser communication systems. In this article we describe new AOSS laboratory sessions implemented in 2006-2009 for nearly 250 students. The activity goals include boosting familiarity with AO technologies, reinforcing knowledge of optical alignment techniques and the design of optical systems, and encouraging inquiry into critical scientific questions in vision science using AO systems as a research tool. The activities are divided into three stations: Vision Science, Fourier Optics, and the AO Demonstrator. We briefly overview these activities, which are described fully in other articles in these conference proceedings (Putnam et al., Do et al., and Harrington et al., respectively). We devote attention to the unique challenges encountered in the design of these activities, including the marriage of inquiry-like investigation techniques with complex content and the need to tune depth to a graduate- and PhD-level audience. According to before-after surveys conducted in 2008, the vast majority of participants found that all activities were valuable to their careers, although direct experience with integrated, functional AO systems was particularly beneficial.
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