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Paper: WorldWide Telescope Interactives in Online Astronomy Classes
Volume: 531, ASP2020: Embracing the Future: Astronomy Teaching and Public Engagement
Page: 159
Authors: Udomprasert, P.; Houghton, H.; Williams, P.
Abstract: The American Astronomical Society's WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is a free online tool for showcasing astronomical data and knowledge. Its 3D environment, richly populated with views of our solar system, Milky Way galaxy, and the cosmos beyond, can provide learners with insights into topics like:
  • why we experience night and day;
  • why we observe different phases of the Moon throughout a month;
  • why the constellations in our night sky change throughout the year;
  • how constellations are projections of 3-dimensional star groupings on our night sky;
  • how we know that we live in flat, round spiral galaxy; and
  • what large-scale structure in the universe looks like.
Until recently, WWT functioned best in a Windows-only desktop version. New software development on the part of the AAS's WWT team now enables users to access WWT's best features through a web-browser, greatly facilitating online teaching in astronomy. Still, the richness of the general-purpose WWT desktop and web clients can take some time to master. To simplify teaching with WWT, our team has developed online WWT interactives that utilize only a subset of features that are most relevant to a specific learning goal. Our exemplar interactives, created in collaboration with WGBH, are geared toward the teaching of the solar system, the life cycle of stars, and the Hubble Law. In this workshop, we will teach K-12 and college educators how to use the WWT interactives in their online teaching. We will focus particularly on the 3-D solar system and cosmos interactive and how it can be used to explore the different topics listed in the bullet points above. If there is interest, we will also share how educators can access the source code for the interactives and create their own educational modules with the WWT web engine software development kit.
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