Astronomy Learning Activities For Teachers (Coming Soon...)

Astronomy Learning Activities from Indiana University

The astronomy learning activities listed below allow students to access research data to explot key principles in astronomy. The modules were originally developed at Indiana University and have been updated for use with tablet computers

These modules provide an opportunity to explore astronomy through data and observation. Our learning goals include:

  • to teach that science is a process of discovery, not just a body of knowledge
  • to increase positive attitudes towards science, and towards pursuing STEM careers, by giving students an opportunity to do authentic research
  • to develop important skills such as critical thinking, teamwork and goal-driven work skills that are important in any career path.

Astronomy in Color is a tool to create color images from monochrome, multi-wavelength images of astronomical sources. Students can create natural color images or explore the use of pseudo-color to highlight particular aspects of galaxies such as regions of star formation or radio emission.
Star Cluster uses color images of star clusters to allow students to construct Hertzsprung-Russell diagrams to estimate the ages of the clusters from the stars' brightness and temperature.
Nova Search uses images of the central portion of the Andromeda Galaxy obtained from the WIYN 0.9m telescope at Kitt Peak. Students can view "time-lapse" movies to search for novae - white dwarf stars undergoing outbursts caused by explosive nuclear burning of material accreted from companion stars. Novae flare up in brightness and then fade over time. Once a nova is found, students can estimate the brightness over time to obtain a light curve. (The NovaSearch module was originally developed through collaboration with Travis Rectorat the University of Alaska at Anchorage).
Proper Pair (available soon) allows students to explore the Hipparcos database of stellar proper motions and parallaxes to determine if a double star is a visual binary or just a chance superposition on the sky.
The Drake Equation Calculator allows students to calculate the surface temperature of a planet orbiting a host star.
The Planet Temperature Calculator allows students to explore the Hipparcos database of stellar proper motions and parallaxes to determine if a double star is a visual binary or just a chance superposition on the sky.

The original versions of these activities are still available from the IU Astronomy website at the IU Astro Education page.

Credits:

  • These Astronomy Learning Activities have been developed by Frank Morris, Catherine Pilachowski, and Randy Hamper at Indiana University.
  • Novasearch utilizes data made available by Professor Travis Rector of the University of Alaska at Anchorage, who developed the original NovaSearch program while at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (www.noao.edu) in Tucson.
  • Support from the National Science Foundation (www.nsf.gov) for the original development of the tools is gratefully acknowledged.