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Paper: Astronomy Laboratory Exercises in a Remote World
Volume: 531, ASP2020: Embracing the Future: Astronomy Teaching and Public Engagement
Page: 261
Authors: Vogt, N. P.; Rector, T.
Abstract: We present a set of resources for astronomical lab work geared primarily toward college non-science majors. Eight two-week exercises cover a range of solar system, stellar, and extragalactic topics through hands-on physical experiments and analysis of images and spectra. Additional spectral analysis tools provide a framework for longer-term studies and those by science majors, with continuum- and line-fitting options for stellar, galactic, and quasar spectra. All activities can be conducted with students and instructors working remotely and asynchronously. Each lab exercise is supported by a self-contained chapter, a video tutorial showcasing materials construction and usage for experiments and major scientific themes, platform-independent HTML5 apps providing direct access to astronomical data without software packages or installation requirements, interactive report templates, an instructor supplement with learning objectives and teaching tips, and supporting information on scientific keywords and relevant mathematical materials. We discuss the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic usage of our materials for education. We present representative materials and discuss materials usage by instructors, including pilot programs at the high school level and via home schooling, from across the globe. We suggest pragmatic adaptations for pandemic usage, including constraints due to limitations on students resources and mobility. We describe our collaboration process, including asynchronous instructor workshops and a pilot program to develop exercise variants to match specific needs from instructors (e.g., minimal-math projects).
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