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Thread: High school astronomy

  1. #1
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    High school astronomy

    Hey

    Not sure if this is the right forum for my question, but here it is anyway

    I emailed Phil a while back asking him if he knew where I could get curriculum for a high school astronomy course (grade 11 or 12 level)

    I'm a teacher in Ontario (Canada) and have always wanted to teach astronomy, but there is no such course here.

    Phil referred me to someone else, but I never got a response, so I was hoping that someone here might be able to guide me in the general direction.

    I also have a question about singularities: Can different singularities have different amounts of energy even though they are infinitely small? (i.e the big bang singularity vs a "regular sized" black hole)

    Later

    Pete

  2. #2
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    Warning: Non-astronomer/non-physicist enthusiast answers below.

    For the HS Astronomy curriculum, I would look at college-level Astronomy texts that are geared for the General Education coursework. I took a Gen-Ed Astronomy course the last semester of my senior year of college. I only needed a few classes to complete my degree program (mechanical engineering), and I threw in a few blow-off classes that I was interested in to fill out my schedule.

    Trust me, there was nothing in that class that the typical college-bound HS Junior could not handle. The math was first-year algebra level, and the science was sub-HS Physics/Chemistry level. It was a refreshing break from my Mechanical Vibrations (essentially advanced applied partial differential equations), senior design, and Internal Combustion Engine Design courses. It also had a smattering of females in it.

    Edit: Regarding the Singularity question, remember that we are getting heavily into speculation, but I don't think that the jury is in yet on whether a Black hole or the pre-big bang universe are really singularities. That said, the energy contained in a given volume of space will depend on the mass (along with other variables). Since black holes have varying mass, they will definitely have different energies.

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    Approach this subject with care and research. Just last week my daughter who is an astronomy enthusiast had a run-in with the teacher of her twin sons. One of my 11 year old grandsons is also seriously into astronomy. My daughter and grandson both have telescopes and are avid about the subject.

    The problem arose when astronomy came up as part of the science curriculum in class. They were then tested at the end of last week. My grandson missed about six questions. He was very upset as he had actually answered all but one of them correctly. The so called correct answers on the test key were wrong. This was not a quiz the teacher made up but a standard test supplied as part of the school district curriculum. This was not a matter of picky interpretation of the answers either. It was multiple choice.

    As an example on of the questions was "What is the safest way to observe an eclipse?" The answer selected by my grandson was "With a pinhole projection". The other answers were either less safe or stupid, like "through a piece of film". Another eclipse related question asked "you can safely observe an eclipse with:"

    "Number 14 welders filter or a special filter on a telescope". This was considered wrong. I believe the so called correct answer was "on television". My grandson was extremely upset because we had observed the sun just last August through an 8" telescope with a Bader filter.

    Another question asked "Why do the stars appear to move across the sky at night". He answered "Because of the rotation of the Earth". This was "wrong". He was livid.

    I suggest that you carefully check all materials you find. It seems that bad astronomy is everywhere.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan
    .....

    The problem arose when astronomy came up as part of the science curriculum in class. They were then tested at the end of last week. My grandson missed about six questions. He was very upset as he had actually answered all but one of them correctly. The so called correct answers on the test key were wrong. This was not a quiz the teacher made up but a standard test supplied as part of the school district curriculum. This was not a matter of picky interpretation of the answers either. It was multiple choice. .....
    Well I linked to this site for you if you haven't already thrown the book at the teacher. :wink:

    I hope your grandkids got commendations for knowing more than the teacher since one assumes the teacher looked at the answers and didn't realize the key was wrong.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan
    <skip>
    Another question asked "Why do the stars appear to move across the sky at night". He answered "Because of the rotation of the Earth". This was "wrong". He was livid.

    What did they think the right answer was?!
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  7. #7
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    Being a product of the Ontario educational system, I would have loved to have had the option of taking an astronomy course. The only problems I would see in having astronomy as a course on its own (I take it that is what you are talking about?) in high school, would be that it would end up being a non-credit course (assuming school board approval). To be a credit course it would have to be accepted as such by the universities/colleges, at which point it would have to be offered province wide in high schools. Other than that, I would assume astronomy is touched upon as a unit in physics class (realizing that the curriculum has changed drastically since I was in the system and the fact I stayed away from science courses after grade 11 chemistry and physics). I couldn't turn down introductory astronomy as a choice for fulfilling the natural science requirement in university.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift
    Quote Originally Posted by Evan
    <skip>
    Another question asked "Why do the stars appear to move across the sky at night". He answered "Because of the rotation of the Earth". This was "wrong". He was livid.

    What did they think the right answer was?!
    I was wondering that one too...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Normandy6644
    Quote Originally Posted by Swift
    Quote Originally Posted by Evan
    <skip>
    Another question asked "Why do the stars appear to move across the sky at night". He answered "Because of the rotation of the Earth". This was "wrong". He was livid.

    What did they think the right answer was?!
    I was wondering that one too...
    Why, they're angels, of course. Carrying lanterns across the night sky.

  10. #10
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    Nope, the entire universe makes the 135213580294.9242130780325266983 light year trip around the earth every (23:59:58 ) ... c = speed-limit my rosey red- my post kinda looks like HUBbish... 8)

  11. #11
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    Parrothead:

    I didn't know that Margaritavilee was is Ontario...

    Astronomy is only taught in grade 9 science and is called "Space" uggh. Feel free to criticize the ontarion gubment on that one. In grade 12 I think they do a unit on relativity, but I wanted more stuff like parallax, parsecs, etc...what can you do in grade 9 astronomy without trig? Well, I'm about to find out as I'm teaching grade 9 science next semester (I'm really a math teacher with a couple of physics courses, including astronomy and a course in seismology)

    We have the option of using starry night, which I see is advertised on this website. I'd like to do a good job on the space unit

    Later

    Pete

    I would also like to know why the stars appear to revolve around the earth...

    I would also love to make my own astronomy course for g11 or12 but I'm in a very small school so single classes are not timetabled well here

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan
    As an example on of the questions was "What is the safest way to observe an eclipse?" The answer selected by my grandson was "With a pinhole projection". The other answers were either less safe or stupid, like "through a piece of film". Another eclipse related question asked "you can safely observe an eclipse with:"

    "Number 14 welders filter or a special filter on a telescope". This was considered wrong. I believe the so called correct answer was "on television". My grandson was extremely upset because we had observed the sun just last August through an 8" telescope with a Bader filter.
    It's difficult to fault their answer, given the choices, but the choices should not have included "on televison." After all, the safest place to go fishing is your bathtub, but the catch is poor.
    Quote Originally Posted by Normandy6644
    Quote Originally Posted by Swift
    Quote Originally Posted by Evan
    <skip>
    Another question asked "Why do the stars appear to move across the sky at night". He answered "Because of the rotation of the Earth". This was "wrong". He was livid.

    What did they think the right answer was?!
    I was wondering that one too...
    Yes, what was it?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by A Thousand Pardons
    It's difficult to fault their answer, given the choices, but I would argue that the choices should not have included "on televison." After all, the safest place to go fishing is your bathtub, but the catch is poor.

    Actually, you can drown in your bathtub. Even safer is your bed or a padded cell. Plus, there is no danger of catching an endangered fish species!

    For eclipses, the answer should be to hide under the bed!
    8-[
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  14. #14
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    Yes, what was it?
    I don't recall my daughter telling me. She was getting pretty exercised at about that point in the conversation.

    My daughter did have a pointy discussion with the teacher and the teacher agreed to throw out the disputed answers on all the childrens tests. Apparently the entire class scored very poorly until those questions were removed and then the scores were acceptable.

  15. #15
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    OK, Here are a couple of the actual questions in dispute. Let's see your best choices.

    #1
    Q: what is the best way to gather information on other planets?

    a. space probes
    b. binoculars
    c. large telescopes
    d. maps from ancient egyptians


    #2
    Q: name what is responsible for the changing views of our stars.

    a. the gravity of the sun
    b. the path of the stars as they orbit the sun
    c. the orbit of the planets
    d. the rotation of the earth

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan
    Q: what is the best way to gather information on other planets?
    A meaningless question until you define "best". Cost? SImplicity? Accuracy? Ammount of data? Historical view of planets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan
    Q: name what is responsible for the changing views of our stars.
    Again, ambiguous definition of "changing". Are we talking sidereal changes? How certain "stars" change position over the course of days? How the stars seem to shift when viewing a total eclipse? Or how the proper motion of stars in the galaxy?

    You could argue that all 4 can be correct.

  17. #17
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    You could argue that all 4 can be correct.
    On #2 I have a very hard time accepting B as correct.

  18. #18
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    Those questions are so strangely worded, they almost read as if they were poorly translated from another language.

  19. #19
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    Peter, I used to live in Toronto, actually did high school there, and back then, the Ontario Science Center (on Don Mills if memory serves) had an advanced science curriculum taught during the summer, offered to select students. It covered pretty much all aspects of science, astronomy included.

    Maybe they can help.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan
    #1
    Q: what is the best way to gather information on other planets?

    a. space probes
    b. binoculars
    c. large telescopes
    d. maps from ancient egyptians
    As amstrad said, there are various ways to answer this. Space probes probably provide the cheapest detail, but large telescopes have already provided a lot of the general info--even that was necessary to get there in the first place. Binoculars is more fun.
    #2
    Q: name what is responsible for the changing views of our stars.

    a. the gravity of the sun
    b. the path of the stars as they orbit the sun
    c. the orbit of the planets
    d. the rotation of the earth
    The orbit of the planets (the earth, specifically) is responsible for the difference between the "summer" stars and the "winter" stars, more or less, although the rotation of the earth figures into it too. Both a. and b. seem to hint at some sort of proper motion idea, but they seem to credit the sun with a bit too much influence.

    Are these direct quotes, or paraphrases?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by A'a
    Those questions are so strangely worded, they almost read as if they were poorly translated from another language.
    Agreed! They're both pretty darn ambiguous, to say the least, especially that second one. It's almost like whomever came up with it had no knowledge of the subject, and maybe didn't realize some of the "wrong" answers were in fact totally acceptable. :roll:

  22. #22
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    #1
    Q: what is the best way to gather information on other planets?
    A: Google

    #2
    Q: name what is responsible for the changing views of our stars.
    A: Science. Before science, people thought the stars were warriors tossed into the sky by the gods. Science has proven that to be incorrect. This has changed our view of the stars.

    :wink:
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift
    #1
    Q: what is the best way to gather information on other planets?
    A: Google
    Hey I know that's how I do it!

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    They are direct quotes.

    I don't think it can be argued that the BEST information we have on other planets comes from telescopes. That has to be probes.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by amstrad
    Again, ambiguous definition of "changing". Are we talking sidereal changes? How certain "stars" change position over the course of days? How the stars seem to shift when viewing a total eclipse? Or how the proper motion of stars in the galaxy?

    You could argue that all 4 can be correct.
    Are you saying stars "orbit" the Sun?

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift
    #2
    Q: name what is responsible for the changing views of our stars.
    A: Science. Before science, people thought the stars were warriors tossed into the sky by the gods. Science has proven that to be incorrect. This has changed our view of the stars.

    :wink:
    Oooh...I love your #2 answer. =D>

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift
    #1
    Q: what is the best way to gather information on other planets?
    A: Google
    Google seems to be the answer to a lot of my questions these days...

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by beskeptical
    Are you saying stars "orbit" the Sun?
    I said I could argue. I didn't say I'd be right

    However, since an orbit is just a mathematical model of gravitional interactions between simple bodies, I might say that there are no such thing as one thing orbiting another thing. Certainly the local stars do not "orbit" the Sun in a classical sense. But do the local stars gravitationally interact with our Sun in a significant way? Absolutely!

    I guess would you could say is that: Yes, local stars orbit the Sun. They are just so far away that they have not made a complete revolution yet

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan
    I don't think it can be argued that the BEST information we have on other planets comes from telescopes. That has to be probes.
    What about information on the planets' long-term orbital paths? Don't we need telescopes for that?

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    No one said only information, merely the BEST information. Think Titan.

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