Development of an Experiental Introductory Astronomy Course at the University of Montana-Western

PI: Craig Zaspel, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Montana-Western

Part of the Mission Statement of The University of Montana-Western (UMW) involves experiential learning. As a significant move to accomplish this, UMW has recently implemented one-class-at-a-time, or block scheduling with an 18 day course duration for three hours every day giving students more time for hands-on learning in all classes. This has necessitated a restructuring of most classed as they evolve from a lecture format to classes that are more group or individual project-based. This project will fund the development of a project-based introductory astronomy course at UMW.

In order to address potential transferability issues arising from the unique scheduling at UMW, this course will cover the same material as other introductory astronomy courses in the Montana University System. In particular, these include basic physical principles, solar system astronomy, stellar astronomy, galactic and extragalactic astronomy including large-scale structure. In-class projects to be developed will use available on-line data from NASA as well as other universities. An important goal will be the development of projects that will enable students to understand the significance of typical astronomical distance and time scales. Finally, the projects in the solar system section of this course will introduce students to basic concepts from the geosciences and atmospheric sciences.  

Contact Information

Mail: Craig Zaspel
Department of Environmental Sciences
University of Montana-Western
Dillon, MT 59725
E-mail: Craig Zaspel
Phone: (406) 683-7366

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Updated March 24, 2008