Astronomy in-class activity: first-day student expectations, questions

Astronomy 210 In-class activity 1, fall semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Originally uploaded by Waifer X

Wordle.net tag cloud for potentially interesting astronomy topics, generated by students on the first day of class (http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/2311645/Untitled).

Originally uploaded by Waifer X

Wordle.net tag cloud for potentially confusing astronomy topics, generated by students on the first day of class (http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/2311662/Untitled).

On the first day of class, students find their assigned groups of three to four students, and work cooperatively on an in-class activity worksheet to discuss concepts that will potentially be interesting or confusing to them later in the semester. Students are also encouraged to write down a comment or a question for the instructor to go over during the whole-class discussion, after the in-class activity worksheets are turned in.

[Responses have been edited to consolidate common related subjects.]

Discuss in your group astronomy-related concepts you expect to be interesting or confusing later in this course. Use one word or short phrases (e.g., "Pluto," "black holes," "beginning of time") for each concept.

List at least three astronomy-related concepts you expect to be interesting.

Student responses
Sections 70158, 70160
constellations, Pluto, starwheel
2012, whitedwarfs, blackholes
bigbang, tides, constellations
space, distance, time, infinity, motion, blackness
constellations, galaxies, history
space-time, constellations, blackholes
blackholes, moonphases, eclipses
starwheel, Pluto, blackholes
stars, blackholes, galaxies
blackholes, dwarfstars, supernovae, location
solarflares, supernovae, blackholes, bigbang
galaxies, blackholes, shootingstars
bigbang, supernovae, lightspeed, solarsystems
blackholes, lightspeed, shootingstars, supernovae
galaxies, deathsofstars, startemperatures
planetalignment, planetlocations, eclipses
galaxies, starformation, deathsofstars, lifeonthemoon
stringtheory, ET, apocalypse
Venus, constellations, solarrings
gravity, supernovae, gasgiants, browndwarfs
blackhole, supernovae, Titan
constellations, blackholes, galaxies
constellations, shootingstars, blackholes
sunmovement, timechanges, lunarpositions
blackholes, solarsystem, galaxies
blackholes, darkmatter, supernovae
blackholes, exoplanets, stellarevolution
meteorshowers, stars, constellations
OrionsBelt, northernlights, MilkyWay

List at least three astronomy-related concepts you expect to be confusing.

Student responses
Sections 70158, 70160
bigbang, blackholes, starwheel
timetravel, math, bigbang
blackholes, whitedwarfs, bigbang
SAO, math, formulas, graphs
starformation, lightyear, lookbacktime
spacetime, locationdetermination, validationofknowledge
lookbacktime, tides, Pluto
planetformation, time, planetology
nebulae, wormholes, starformation
wormholes, bigbang, gravity, spacetime
gravity, orbits, stardeath, Pluto
spacetime, constellationnames, galaxynames, gravity, thematerialofspace
starlocations, gravity, math, physics
ET, UFOs, distance, size, math
AU, distance, laws
math, findingstars, planetcomposition, starcomposition
eclipses, blackholes, densitywavetheory
starnames, galaxynames, dwarfs, giants, physics
math, memorizing, mappingoutthesky
wormholes, 2012, expandinguniverse, ET
neutrinos, redshifts, blueshifts
calculations, starmapping, variouscientificconcepts
math, lightyears, Pluto
blackholes, galaxies, starnames, memorizing
math, constellations, tests
bigbang, expandinguniverse, blackholes
light, blackholes, planetnames, starnames, solarsystemnames
constellations, blackholes, elements, planets
blackholes, tests, locatingstars

Each week after class you will receive credit for asking a question, or making a comment that the instructor might respond to at the start of the following class (while your identity is kept anonymous). Ask at least one question, or make a comment that you would like the instructor to respond to at the end of this in-class activity.

Student responses
Sections 70158, 70160
"Why don't the zodiac constellations show up during their corresponding time of year?"

"Any out of class work?"

"How much of our homework is going to have to be done at night?"

"Does motion exist or is it an illusion in regards to points and distances. Infinity and what is it really?"

"How many constellations are there in our galaxy?"

"Do you think the magnetic polarity of the Earth will switch over time or in one fell swoop?"

"What is your astrological sign, and do you think it makes a difference?"

"Will we have projects? How often will we be stargazing?"

"What's the average temperature of the universe?"

"Do you believe wormhole travel is possible?"

"hat made you change from Physics to Astronomy?"

"When do we get to look through telescopes?"

"Describe what you believe will happen when the planets align in 2012."

"What school was more enjoyable to attend--[UC] Davis or [Washington University in] St. Louis?"

"Are most measures/calculations the same when used for a moving object on Earth as to a moving object in space?"

"How far is the sun away from the Earth?"

"How prepared are we to protect the Earth from incoming objects?"

"Do you believe in aliens? Where does the universe end? Can you rap? Show us. :)"

"Which constellation is your favorite?"

"What happens to a star when it is sucked into a black hole?"

"Can you read the Mayan calendar?"

"How much math will be in this class?"

"What is your favorite planet?"

"When is the next meteor shower?"

"Do you think that Pluto should be classified as a planet?"

"Why is Pluto no longer a planet?"

"Have any planets been found in other solar systems that are though to be possibly inhabited by other forms of life?"

"Is there a lot of math in astronomy?"

"How to use the [Edmund Scientific] Star and Planet Finder? What's up with the 'Ventura Project?'"
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1 comment:

Laurel Kornfeld said...

Any students researching Pluto's planet status should listen to audio transcripts of the Great Planet Debate, held at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in August 2008. The transcripts can be found here: http://gpd.jhuapl.edu/

Also, I run a blog advocating the planet status of Pluto and all dwarf planets at http://laurele.livejournal.com