Introducing Astronomy Related Research into Non-Astronomy Courses
The concern over the insufficient number of students choosing to enter the science and engineering fields has
been discussed and documented for years. While historically addressed at the national level, many states are now recognizing that the lack of a highly-skilled technical workforce within their states’ borders has a significant effect on their economic health. Astronomy, as a science field, is no exception. Articles appear periodically in the most popular astronomy magazines asking the question, “Where are the young astronomers?” Astronomy courses at the community college level are normally restricted to introductory astronomy I and II level classes that introduce the student to the basics of the night sky and astronomy. The vast majority of these courses is geared toward the non-science major and is considered by many students to be easy and watered down courses in comparison to typical physics and related science courses. A majority of students who enroll in these classes are not considering majors in science or astronomy since they believe that science is “boring and won’t produce any type of career for them.” Is there any way to attract students? This paper discusses an approach being undertaken at the Estrella Mountain Community College to introduce students in selected mathematics courses to aspects of astronomy related research to demonstrate that science is anything but boring. Basic statistical techniques and understanding of geometry are applied to a large virgin data set containing the magnitudes and phase characteristics of sets of variable stars. The students’ work consisted of developing and presenting a project that explored analyzing selected aspects of the variable star data set. The description of the data set, the approach the students took for research projects, and results from a survey conducted at semester’s end to determine if student’s interest and appreciation of astronomy was affected are presented. Using the data set provided, the students were provided the opportunity for original research and discoveries.
Type of Publication
Estrella Mountain Community College | Global Network of Astronomical Telescopes
The Society for Astronomical Sciences 29th Annual Symposium on Telescope Science.
Society for the Astronomical Sciences
Conference Proceeding Type
Nation(s) of Study
United States of America