Get Your Students to do the Outreach!

Type Conference Paper
Names E. J. Hooper
Conference Name Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series
Volume 431
Pages 406
Date August 1, 2010
URL http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2010ASPC..431..406H
Library Catalog NASA ADS
Abstract Five radio shows; a full-page color spread in the campus newspaper; YouTube videos; an interactive activity at the local children's museum; a star party for a dorm; children's books; an outing with Boy Scouts. This is just a sampling of group projects planned and executed in a single semester by students in an introductory course for non-science majors. Everyone in the class joins a group self-organized around common interests to produce a product or activity that communicates some aspect of astronomy to a segment of the general population. These projects give the students a creative outlet to merge some of their outside interests with the course material, a practical exposure to scientific communication, an opportunity for peer instruction including peer evaluation, and a chance to hone their skills in managing group dynamics. The semester long effort begins with everyone in the class submitting individual ideas for subjects and presentation methods. After these ideas are categorized, students begin organizing the groups on a web discussion board. They articulate learning goals for the intended audience and describe how they plan to evaluate the success of the project and the attainment of these goals. The group members seek outside advice from people in other groups during one week of the course discussion section. They submit a progress report and then a first draft, the latter also sent to a different group for review. After feedback from the instructor and a week of the teaching assistant's (TA's) office hours devoted to scheduled meetings with each group, the students draft the final versions or make presentations near the end of the semester.
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