Monday, June 18, 2007

Great Tours

You might find it interesting to know that I teach a senior level astronomy class. You might also find it interesting to know that the students and I had a conversation that involved the idea of the students being producers of information and not just consumers. We talked for awhile about what this would look like in a high school class. The students decided that they wanted to create different types of documents through out the school year where they could show that they learned and understood some of the material that was presented.

As we looked at the different ways that astronomy impacts our lives, the students tried many different approaches to show their knowledge.

  • They produced a wiki where they showed how the material in the history of astronomy currently influences the world around them.
  • They produced advertisements attempting to sell a telescope of their choice.
  • They measured the size of galaxies and attempted to classify them (on the computers).
  • They produced a timeline of space exploration.
  • They produced PowerPoints or PhotoStories on the life cycles of stars like our Sun.

All of these items were good.

  • They looked at the Solar Cycle and tried to find a pattern in the sunspots.
  • They plotted stars (closest and brightest) on an H-R diagram and tried to find patterns.
  • They looked up definitions of terms that I thought were helpful.
  • They worked in groups a lot.

Most of which needs more work to be a better fit in the class.

The students, and I, are most pleased with the final projects from both semesters. In the spring, the students took a topic of choice (from a list of course, I was not willing to give up all control) and produced a creative item to teach their classmates about the item. I received children's books about the Apollo program, CD's of music for Challenger and Columbia, video about black holes, and trading cards (for the Gemini missions, Space Shuttle, Apollo, space stations, different astronauts and other topics).

The fall semester, now that was impressive. The students created virtual tours of the Solar System. The only requirements were:

  1. The project had to be longer than three minutes.
  2. There needed to be research turned in with project.
  3. A reason for a source needed to be included with the works cited.
  4. All eight planets (Pluto not included) needed to be in the presentation somewhere.
  5. The Asteroid Belt did not have to be included.
  6. The students needed to spend time on the details of one planet of their choice.

As you might expect, there were some really good projects turned in (and some that left a little to be desired). The students used music to add to their projects and they even used their own voices. There were some projects that used video while most did not. There were some errors in the facts (I guess that we need to work on that). There are some items that I will need to go over with the group next time but I was impressed with the results that the students produced.

Take a look at a couple of the Solar System Tours. One with music and one without.

ErikJKyleL (6.75 MB)

RobertRSpenserH (5.29 MB)

Next semester, I am thinking about something using claymation. If there is anyone who has experience using this in a Windows environment please let me know about the software.

1 comment:

mf said...

"Great tour" by Robert

Mike Firchau/Germany
Teacher for astronomy and physics