Subcategory: STEM Science and Mathematics Education
- University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Co-Author(s): Alna Hendrick, Veterans Memorial High School, Brownsville, TX; Erick Vallarino, San Benito High School, San Benito, TX
On September 14, 2015 a new chapter in the history of astronomy has begun. Gravitational Waves were detected for the first time, after the longest search to verify a theoretical prediction in the history of modern physics. Less than two years after this detection, the astronomical community had the chance to observe the first collision of two neutron stars with a multiplicity of instruments ranging from X-ray and Gamma-ray satellites, to optical telescopes including gravitational wave detectors.
This history is a highly inspirational tale. A long standing search which solves many scientific mysteries at the same time: the source of heavy metals on Earth like gold and platinum, the origin of the most energetic explosions in the universe, and opens at the same time a new venue to measure the expansion of the universe. Time Domain Astronomy is the name adopted in astronomy to refer to the study of transient astrophysical events like this one. But Time Domain Astronomy includes the observation of many different astronomical events whose associated energetics varied during the night sky: i.e. the study and tracking of asteroids, observations of eclipsing binaries, novae, supernovae as well as the observation of kilonovae (which is the name given to the associated electromagnetic emission during the collision of neutron stars).
In this poster we discuss how the study of Time Domain Astronomy can be utilized as the main topic of a High School Astronomy course. The course focuses on the utilization of an astronomical observatory to teach hands-on astronomy to HS students performing regular observations of transient events. Students learn to operate a telescope and to perform astrometric and photometric observations at the same time they learn astronomical topics typically adopted in the HS curriculum.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Tthe authors acknowledge support from NSF-PHYS 1156600 and NSF-HRD 1242090
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,