Modeling Simple Telescope Optics in Secondary Mathematics Classrooms

Type Conference Paper
Names Lauren Siegel, G. Dickinson, E. J. Hooper, M. Daniels
Proceedings Title Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society
Conference Name American Astronomical Society, AAS Meeting #211, #05.07
Volume 39
Pages 733
Date December 1, 2007
URL http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2007AAS...211.0507S
Library Catalog NASA ADS
Abstract This presentation describes the results of collaboration between instructors in the UTeach teacher preparation program at the University of Texas at Austin, and an astronomer teaching at the university as part of a National Science Foundation Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship. The astronomer provided training to give pre-service teachers an authentic understanding of the principles of telescope optics. This made it possible for the preservice teachers to include real design constraints and optical properties into lessons developed as part of a collaborative field experience to teach astronomical telescope design and construction to high school Algebra II students. One result is a sequence of investigations designed to explore how and why the physical and mathematical properties of parabolic mirrors both enable and constrain our ability to build and use telescopes to focus light from distant objects. Various approaches, including generating and exploring computer models, traditional proofs, even making paper models, are all woven together into a coherent set of eleven investigations for use in mathematics and science classrooms. The presentation will include a description of the suite of investigations, as well as a discussion of the collaborative process which generated the work and resulted in an article submission to a preeminent teaching journal. Teaching Algebra and Geometry Concepts by Modeling Telescope Optics, 2008, Mathematics Teacher is currently in press. Many thanks to the University of Texas UTeach Program for sponsorship of this submission.
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