Astronomy 31G – Where Students and Space Collide
Andrea Misner – Science Teacher at Maples Collegiate, Winnipeg, Manitoba
I am a science teacher at Maples Collegiate high school in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and have been teaching for about seven years. Our elective Astronomy 31G course has been ongoing for about four years. The course is divided into three units; Introduction to the Universe, Stellar Classification and Cosmology.
Once the students have an understanding of sky motions, constellations and deep sky objects, I integrate the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Network of telescopes into my curriculum. Leading up to taking images of the night sky, I have my students become familiar with the online program, Stellarium. After working through various Stellarium labs and activities, my students search for deep sky objects over Siding Spring Australia.
The students are always excited to have the opportunity to take images with a telescope used for scientific research. Students soon begin to realize that gathering data does not occur over night. Taking astronomical images are weather dependent and often times there is a waiting list for telescope use. This gives my students a taste of what professional astronomers do for their research, but picking object sand submitting them to a telescope for imaging. This innovative and unique prospect pushes student’s experiences outside of the classroom and into something more hands on and current in their learning.
After the student’s haven chosen their target objects, we submit them to the Global Network of telescopes, and request their objects to be taken with three coloured filters; blue, green and red. Once the images are taken and downloaded from the Las Cumbres Observatory portal, the students are able to dive into a little astrophotography and are required to compile all three images into one coloured image.
Students accomplished this by using various free photo editing software programs, and guided documents that outline how to use these programs, provided by Solar Silbings. Typically, this takes the students about one class to achieve this task! After the images are processed, students research further on their target objects and write-up a summary report of what they have learned.
Without Solar Siblings and the Las Cumbres Observatories around the world, my students would be missing out on really interesting science!