The Remote Access Astronomy Project: an Example of a University/high School Cooperative Effort
The Remote Access Astronomy Project is a unique computerized telescope and data distribution system that has the potential to change the way astronomical, earth science and physics concepts are taught to high school and undergraduate students. The project uses high resolution astronomical and earth resource images and image processing techniques that appeal to the natural curiosity young people have about space and astronomy as well as taking advantage of the familiarity of video imagery. In addition, particularly at the secondary school level, it serves as a forum for low cost and rapid distribution of curriculum materials among teachers and as an educational network between high schools and between high schools and universities.
By using a combination of high performance, low cost microcomputers, high resolution interactive graphics, high speed modem technology and data compression techniques, the project can break down the traditional learning boundaries in a classroom and allow students and teachers access to a much richer environment that is, in a sense, a classroom without walls. The graphics resolution achieved is near photographic at 1024 × 768 pixels allowing us to have in the classroom a system that only five years ago would have cost roughly 25–50 K$ but can be utilized for less than $2500 today.
The system is currently undergoing testing at the undergraduate level at UCSB, at a number of California high schools and a junior high. The project is supported by the University of California, The National Science Foundation's Center for Particle Astrophysics and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.