Online reading assignment: Milky Way history, big bang clues (NC campus)

Astronomy 210, spring semester 2016
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students have a weekly online reading assignment (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com), where they answer questions based on reading their textbook, material covered in previous lectures, opinion questions, and/or asking (anonymous) questions or making (anonymous) comments. Full credit is given for completing the online reading assignment before next week's lecture, regardless if whether their answers are correct/incorrect. Selected results/questions/comments are addressed by the instructor at the start of the following lecture.

The following questions were asked on reading textbook chapters and previewing presentations on the history of the Milky Way and big bang clues, a comic strip adaptation of of Neil deGrasse Tyson's "The Most Astounding Fact" 2008 interview for TIME magazine, and Minute Physics' video explanation of Olbers' paradox.

Selected/edited responses are given below.

Describe something you found interesting from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally interesting for you.
"What I found intereating was that the early universe started out with just only hydrogen, and the first-generation massive stars then gathered this hydrogen and promptly got to work, fusing it into heavier elements in their cores, while their outer layers remained relatively pristine, free of metals (and the picture was really pretty)."

"The big bang, it is interesting to learn about the very beginning."

"The big bang was pretty neat. I've never really heard the lesson behind why it is possible."

"How they described telescopes as time machines."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"Olber's question. I was reading it then lost interest."

"Metallicity was a little confusing to me."

"The big bang."

"Telescopes are time machines?"

"Metal-poor versus metal-rich."

"What I found confusing was the big bang theory. I found this more I guess you could say complicated in a way than confusing. I've just never understood how scientists can come up with some random theory. Theorys are based on facts and no one was able to witness this big bang. I don't know Ive always been curios about everything and question everything, well almost everything."

Indicate how the amount of these elements in the universe have changed over time.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Hydrogen: decreased [36%]
Metals (elements heavier than hydrogen and helium): increased [64%]

The outermost layers of __________ are more abundant in metals (elements heavier than hydrogen and helium).
extremely old stars that formed a long time ago.  **** [4]
young stars that formed very recently.  ****** [6]
(There is a tie.)  [0]
(Neither, as stars cannot have metals.)  [0]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  * [1]

Indicate what produced these elements.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Helium in the sun's core: the sun [18%]
Carbon in your body: another star, in the past [18%]
Calcium in your bones: another star, in the past [9%]
Iron in your blood: another star, in the past [18%]
Gold and silver from mines: another star, in the past [27%]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"I really don't know what to put down in this box anymore. Maybe I'll get creative for next weeks. :)"

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