Online reading assignment: quantum leaps, sun's outer layers (SLO campus)

Astronomy 210, fall semester 2017
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 quantum leaps, and the sun's outer layers.

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.
"That the neon signs are made with different gases because I always see those signs but never thought what was causing them to look like that."

"I found the term 'excited atom' interesting because it is comical to think of an atom as excited."

"We've turned 'neon signs' into a really vague term when actually there are so many different types of gases that make up different colors for these signs."

"I've never thought too much about what is actually going on inside a neon light. I think now I'll go around pointing out that they have different gas atoms."

"That ancient Egyptians saw cobras spitting fire while they were looking at the sun during an eclipse."

"Some of the individual facts in this part of the reading were amazing, such as a single granule in the photosphere is the size of Texas. That's incredible! Also that the photosphere is such a thin portion of the sun is pretty mind blowing."

"Comparing the sun to lava lamps and miso soup interesting, as I just had miso soup the other night and witnessed that."

"Not knowing what sunspots were, I always thought they were brighter, not darker, than the rest of the sun."

"The comparison of the sun to miso soup because I grew up eating Japanese food all the time and now when I eat miso soup it will have a completely different meaning."

"That sunspots are magnetic, because I didn't realize that something could be magnetic without being metal."

"Honestly, this chapter was very boring to me and I had to read it a couple of times without falling asleep."

"The analogies in your presentation really helped me understand the material better. Especially the comparison with the miso soup and the sun!"

"The miso soup and lava lamp analogy was very helpful on understanding the convection currents because having that visual aid made the topic clearer."

"I liked all the analogies you used."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"What I found confusing was the jumping between energy orbits. I've always found them confusing even in high school. I just haven't found a way to really understand it yet."

"The chemical composition of the sun and the spectra are so confusing that I have to read over and and over and still struggle to understand what I'm reading."

"I find that the atoms and electrons and everything like that is confusing because it's such on a small scale its hard to relate this to real life."

"The photon thing. Of a photon represents light, then why would an electron emit a photon as it jumps to a higher energy and create more light? do I understand this right? Does the light only occur on the downward motion of the electron as it absorbs the photon? That a photon emits light only as it goes from a higher energy to a lower one? I don't get it."

"The image of 'fire-spitting cobras' was confusing to me because it took me a while to be able to see the cobras (though I still can't really see the 'fire-spitting' part). Everything else was pretty interesting, but felt like an in-depth review of things I've learned (at least surface level information of) in other classes. So, interesting and hard to remember specifics? Yes. Confusing? Not so much (for me)."

"The reference about the magnet passing in front of the TV as a little confusing to me. I'm not sure what exactly it is representing compared to the sun. Is it an example of how the sunspots move?"

"Honestly this entire section confused me...definitely will need to go over it a lot more in class."

"Nothing was confusing."

An electron in an atom must emit a photon when it jumps from a __________ energy orbital to a __________ energy orbital.
lower; higher.  **** [4]
higher; lower.  ************************* [25]
(Both of the above choices.)  * [1]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  ** [2]

An electron in an atom must absorb a photon when it jumps from a __________ energy orbital to a __________ energy orbital.
lower; higher.  ************************* [25]
higher; lower.  **** [4]
(Both of the above choices.)  [0]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  *** [3]

The exterior of the sun, from inner to outermost layers, are the:
(Only correct responses shown.)
inner: photosphere [78%]
middle: chromosphere [75%]
outer: corona [78%]

State your preference regarding miso soup.
Strongly dislike.  * [1]
Dislike.  ** [2]
Neutral.  ** [2]
Like  ******** [8]
Strongly like.  ***************** [17]
(I don't know what miso soup is.)  ** [2]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Please go over photons, electrons, etc. This topic is confusing to me, as I never did well in science growing up!"

"If a photon has more than the amount of energy that is needed to emit/absorb, will it just not emit/absorb at all due to it not being exact change?" (That's how the "exact change required" policy (the photon rule) works.)

"Is any of this chemistry material going to be on the midterm?" (No, this is Quiz 4 stuff; the first midterm only covers the first three quizzes, up until telescopes.)

"Can we please go over the energy orbit stuff?"

"I work at a Japanese restaurant and always serve miso soup and now I'm going to think of the sun every time."

"What's your favorite soup? Are you bringing us food?"

"How do you feel about miso soup."

"Do you like miso soup?"

"Sorry, I haven't had a chance to get to the reading chapter yet. Miso soup is ookay. It's definitely very flavorful, but it has a weird smell or taste."

"Miso soup or Pad Thai noodles?" (Why not both? That's what Mrs. P-dog and I pack for camping.)

"If you had unlimited money, what would you do?" (Well, unlimited miso soup for starters.)

"Sometimes when I see how small Earth is (especially compared to the sun and its solar flares) I get goosebumps and feel a little light-headed. Wondering if this is a normal reaction or I'm just weird."

"Although we as humans would inevitably die if we landed anywhere on the sun (including sunspots), is there any type of machine we could build to land on the sun and have it not burst into flames instantaneously?" (No, nothing we could ever make right now is going to be that chill.)

"Your description slides for the in-class activity aren't clear enough for me to fill out the worksheet comfortably. For this reason I would like more explanation in class. I feel as if the information you are providing in the slides is not clearly correlating with what you're asking."

"Riddle me this, Dr. Len: sometimes in your blog and lectures I am left with more questions than answers. maybe it's just me, but I learn better when a direct question is presented with a subsequent direct answer. My question is this: is astronomy and those who study it...so far advanced into their vast mental capacity that they start speaking another language other than English? Is it some form of astro-no-mese language? If so, who teaches that language class? jk/lol." (Put it this way: go to the back of your astronomy textbook, and count how many glossary terms there are. Then pick up a first-year introductory Spanish (or any other language) textbook, and count how many words those students have to learn. Pretty much the same number of new words...)

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