Realistic Explorations in Astronomical Learning (REAL)
The story of REAL began in June of 2007. My (Jennifer Wilhelm) background is Physics (bachelors and masters), and I have a PhD in Science and Mathematics Education with a dissertation on project-based instruction (Assessing Student Understanding of Sound Waves and Trigonometric Reasoning in a Technology-rich, Project-enhanced Environment). My husband and astronomer, Ron Wilhelm (PhD in Physics and Astronomy), and I were traveling with our two children to Yellowstone National Park from Lubbock, Texas, for a short vacation. I was not particularly thrilled about making this journey since I was heavily involved in preparing my dossier for promotion and tenure. As we traveled across the country on this 1,090 mile journey, we had much time to discuss our next project endeavors. Ron had already been using a project-enhanced investigative method within his astronomy classes since he became sold on this method while I researched it for my dissertation. It was during this road trip that we hatched the REAL idea and later that fall applied for a NASA grant to fund our REAL project-based unit. We were awarded the grant in October 2007, and the design, development, implementation, and research began.
Wilhelm, J., Wilhelm, R., & Cole, M. (2019). Realistic Explorations in Astronomical Learning (REAL). In J. Wilhelm, R. Wilhelm, & M. Cole, Creating Project-Based STEM Environments (pp. 45–109). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/97