Babs and Theresa's NSTA Thing

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This session will address the Teaching Standard B of the National Standards. We will demonstrate how teachers can do authentic research in stellar astronomy with their students using actual Spitzer Space Telescope infrared data.

In this presentation, we will share our experience with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope Observing Program for Teachers and show how to integrate it into the classroom. Through the use of relatively simple software, teachers can create an authentic research experience for their students, emulating the work of infra-red astronomers. We will give specific instructions and demonstrate techniques for working with Spitzer data. Specifically, we will describe and demonstrate the following:

  • MaxIm DL, an image processing program that is easy to use and readily available. Using this program, students can combine images from different wavelengths to produce false-color images. Students can also use MaxIm DL to measure the brightness of stars. Scientists use similar software to complete the same measurements and produce false-color images.
  • Microsoft Excel, which allows students to chart/ graph data and convert values that they have measured using MaxIm DL into standard units. Using Excel, students can generate color-color diagrams and spectral energy distribution graphs. Both of these are tools used by astronomers for classifying stars and doing other types of astronomical research.
  • The Spitzer Science Center web site where teachers can download free Spitzer data and find activities for teaching about light and astronomy.

[last edited April 2, 10:30 pm EDT - now at 200 words exactly]

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