Stars, Sight and Science
Director: Lisa Hunter
Lead Instructors: Lynne Raschke (astronomy), Gene Switkes (vision science)
Participants: 15 high school students
Dates: June 29 - July 26, 2003
Location: University of California Santa Cruz
Opportunities for CfAO Members to Get Involved:
- Helping the instructional team incorporate more inquiry into the current
astronomy research projects.
- Designing an entirely new astronomy project for summer 2004 that incorporates
inquiry and other research-based teaching practices.
- Helping the instructional team revise the current labs and other activities,
specifically with the intention of adding more inquiry and
developing assessment tools.
- Spending 3 weeks at UCSC serving as an astronomy research project advisor.
High school participants will spend four weeks at UC Santa Cruz, in a course
cluster entitled "Stars, Sight and Science," offered through the COSMOS
program at UCSC. Participants will live on campus, with the other COSMOS students,
and will complete three courses along with a host of other pre-college enrichment
activities. The three courses are: 1) Astronomy Today: Observing the Universe;
2) Human Vision: Photons, Proteins, and Perception; and 3) Science Communication.
Astronomy Today: Observing the Universe and Human Vision: Photons,
Proteins, and Perception were developed by CfAO scientists in Year 2. Science
Communication is a COSMOS-wide course that is offered with each of its ten
course clusters. The Science Communication instructor works closely with
instructional staff to deliver material integrated with course content.
Course #1: Human Vision: Photons, Proteins, and Perception.
Human Vision: Photons, Proteins, and Perception will follow the path of visual
information processing from its origins in the properties of light to complex
processing involved in visual illusions. Each of the four weeks will focus on
particular aspects of the visual system. The material will be presented in various
formats: interactive-presentations and demonstrations by staff, laboratory exercises,
and field trips to local museums and institutions involved in aspects of vision.
In collaboration with the science communication course in the CfAO module--via
writing, oral presentation and preparation of a CfAO/COSMOS WWW site--students
will chronicle their understanding of the scientific information on vision as
well as their experiences.
Light, structure of the eye, chemistry of visual transduction, adaptive optics,
clinical aspects of optical dysfunction, how neurons transmit visual information,
color vision, visual Illusions, cognitive aspects of vision.
The course will use the theme of adaptive optics to link together the disciplines
of astronomy and vision and illustrate the interdisciplinary nature of many
frontier areas of research (e.g. the study of vision involving the disciplines
of physics, chemistry, neuroscience, engineering and psychology). Students will
also learn about dysfunction of the visual system from optical, genetic, and
organic causes. They will also learn how techniques from adaptive optics are
being used in LASIK corrective eye surgery. Special attention will be given
to the unifying features of adaptive optics and the three aspects of the CfAO
module. Instructors in the vision and astronomy courses coordinate the presentation
of material on light and optics, which is central to both courses.
Course #2: Astronomy Today: Observing the Universe
In the past 20 years, advances in technology have allowed astronomers to make
some of the most amazing discoveries about our universe. In this course, students
will explore not only the objects in our universe but also the technology and
techniques astronomers use to learn about the universe.
The course will begin by taking students on a tour of objects in the universe
and their relative sizes and scales. Then students will learn about the physics
of light and optics and how telescopes work. In the final sessions, students
will explore new and advanced technologies such as very large telescopes and
space telescopes, as well as adaptive optics, a new technique that makes images
from ground-based telescopes as sharp as images taken from space.
The most exciting part of this course will occur in the final two weeks of
the program when students will get to apply what they have learned to an astronomical
research project. Students will be involved with every aspect of the project,
from the acquisition of data at the telescope to the final analysis of the results.
We are also planning a field trip to Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton so that
students will get to see a working research observatory.
Course #3: Science Communication
The COSMOS Science Communication course will explore not only how real scientists
share their discoveries with the world, but how they use writing to make those
discoveries in the first place. Students will learn how to log data and take
notes on lectures and readings, and to think about information in different
ways to find patterns. The Science Communication instructor will help students
prepare a science intensive web site to articulate their scientific understanding,
to chronicle their experiences, and to provide a basis for the students making
use of some of their summer's work in presentations to their peers in their
home schools. In Year 4, the Science Communication course will expand to include
mechanisms for both the instructors and the students to assess their understanding
of the course topics and their general progress in the course.