The Use of an Authentic Research Experience in Astronomy to Teach the Process of Science
11:45 - 12:00
Research-Based Science Education” (RBSE) is an established instructional model that integrates scientific research with education by giving introductory-level undergraduate astronomy students an opportunity to do authentic research with real data. RBSE is a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) in astronomy. Its goals are threefold: (1) to teach that science is a process of discovery, not just a body of knowledge, (2) to improve attitudes towards science and STEM careers, and (3) to develop critical thinking, teamwork and goal-driven work skills that are important in any career path.
The RBSE curriculum currently consists of five authentic research projects in astronomy: recovery observations of asteroids, searching for classical novae in M31, studying semi-regular variable stars, identifying active galaxies in spectroscopic surveys, and searching for distant galaxies in imaging surveys. Each project uses real astronomical data from professional observatories to investigate authentic research questions for which the answers are not known. In other words, in order to learn science, students are given the opportunity to actually do science. The results of RBSE student research have been submitted to scientific databases, presented at professional conferences, and published in refereed journals. As part of my talk I will present our results on student gains from participating in the RBSE program. I will also discuss the future of CUREs in astronomy, particularly how they will be able to use data from large surveys such as LSST."
Wednesday - September 18, 2019
Effective Climate Change Communication Strategies for Astronomers
10:00 - 10:15
From a social, environmental, and political standpoint, climate change is becoming the defining topic of our time. The need to address climate change has become immediate, with only 12 years to drastically reduce carbon emissions in order to avoid potentially irreversible and catastrophic effects. Unfortunately the public is ill-informed about climate change and its consequences. Fortunately astronomers are well-poised to educate about it. In the classroom and through public talks, planetariums, and K-12 outreach, we reach a large audience. Astronomy is closely connected to the science of climate change, and it is arguably the most important topic we include in our curriculum. Due to misinformation and disinformation, climate change communication is different than for other areas of science. Bad climate communication strategies can be ineffective and even backfire, meaning that simply knowing the science content is not enough to effectively teach it. Talking about climate change requires using effective strategies, for which there is now a considerable body of research. As part of my talk I will introduce (1) resources that will improve their science content knowledge about climate change, (2) effective interactive and inclusive methods for teaching the topic in Astro 101 classes, and (3) established strategies for engaging the public.