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Paper: Lens Inquiry: An Astronomy Lab for Non-Science Majors at Hartnell Community College
Volume: 436, Learning from Inquiry In Practice
Page: 148
Authors: Putnam, N. M.; Cheng, J. Y.; McGrath, E. J.; Lai, D. K.; Moth, P.
Abstract: We describe a three hour inquiry activity involving converging lenses and telescopes as part of a semester-long astronomy lab course for non-science majors at Hartnell Community College in Salinas, CA. Students were shown several short demonstrations and given the chance to experiment with the materials, after which there was a class discussion about the phenomena they observed. Students worked in groups of 2–4 to design their own experiments to address a particular question of interest to them and then presented their findings to the class. An instructor-led presentation highlighted the students’ discoveries and the lab’s content goals, followed by a short worksheet-based activity that guided them in applying their new knowledge to build a simple telescope using two converging lenses. The activity was successful in emphasizing communication skills and giving students opportunities to engage in the process of science in different ways. One of the biggest challenges in designing this activity was covering all of the content given the short amount of time available. Future implementations may have more success by splitting the lab into two sessions, one focusing on converging lenses and the other focusing on telescopes.
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