Each pair of students will choose something to observe, observe and analyze it as carefully as possible, and study more about it in the library. You will become the class experts on how modern scientists understand your phenomenon. You will also research how another culture understood something closely related to this phenomenon. Finally, you will synthesize your research on your web page, present your results to class, and learn from your classmates.
Here are guidelines and resources for students designing and carrying out your own research, and results published as web pages or powerpoint presentations.
TA DA! Your research projects for 2003:
||Jon + Geoff + Graham - Solar Navigation|
|Emily & Katherine - Casseopeia||
||Hans + Dillon - Big Bang|
|Mike & Nathan - Maori Celestial Navigation||
||Trevor + Eric - Galaxies|
|Caitlin & Quinn - Stars||
||Kathleen + Travis - ???|
|Neil & Adam - Venus & Maya||
||Nolan + Andrew _ - Music of the Spheres|
|Mike Henry - Intersolar (?) Colonization||
||Rachelle + Jake - Sun|
Research projects for spring 2001
|Music of the Spheres
by Bo Kinney
|La Luna, by Sarah Hughes and Luke Skillen||Dancing Queen, by Keith Clemmons|
|Mars, by buckie Pedlar||Sunspots, by Meagan Carmichael||Aurorae, by Morea, Ellie, and Heidi|
|Supernovae, by Adam and Shane||Double Stars, by Ben and Rob|
Exemplary observing projects from previous years
by Sara and Christina
|The Sun, by Odelle, Milu, and Laura||Dark Matter, by Ethan and Aaron||Mining Asteroids, by Andrea, Kamala, and Brian|
|Comets, by Lydia||Extrasolar Planets, by Elaine||Magnetars, by Karen|
With your project partner, choose one observational project to complete this quarter. You will also do serious library research on your topic. Do NOT rely on web pages, and DO keep track of your resources so you can reference all the information you use. Exceptionally ambitious, mathematical, and careful projects may earn upper division science credit (to be determined based on your end-of-quarter presentations and reports).
Criteria for a good project:
Consider choosing a project which does not require a telescope. There are about 5 telescopes available for our use, so time at the eyepiece will be at a premium. Plus, there is really no substitute for careful naked-eye and binocular observation to help you develop an intimate, first-hand understanding of sky phenomena. We will attempt to facilitate class observations on viewing nights (Tuesdays, or Thursdays as a backup), as weather permits.
Work in teams to share telescope time, rides to dark spots, hot cocoa and blankets. Observing solo can be cold, lonely business. Bring a thermos, a reclining chair, and a sleeping bag, especially for long sessions such as meteor showers.
Each partner is expected to do independent, original research. Record your observations in an unlined, bound notebook, as described in class. Recor>
Choose one of the projects recommended in our links,or consult
with faculty this week to design a project of your own.
You should develop two complementary understandings of the
phenomenon you research.
What are the best explanations modern scientists have for the phenomenon?
And how did people from another culture or time understand the same phenomenon?
What similarities and differences do you find between the two explanations?
Resist deciding simply that one is "right" and the other is "wrong". Instead, try your best to see it from the point of view of the culture developing the explanation, considering the resources they have for investigating it. For example, why would it make sense for ancient Chinese to say a dragon is swallowing the Sun during an eclipse? It's not mere fancy - it is probably consistent with the local cosmology, or understanding of the universe, in some interesting ways.
Finally, how do the different explanations help you discern fundamental differences (and similarities) in the two cosmologies?
Some of the linked candidate projects include notes about connections to early European or Central and South American cultures. You should do additional research on how another culture understood your research topic. Start with the Audubon Society guide and our seminar texts, and branch out with library research. Remember, most web pages are not refereed, so don't believe most of what you read online!
In addition to our seminar texts, you might check out books
by Anthony Aveni, Michael J. Crowe, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Timothy Ferris,
Carl Sagan, and others.
You must write in your own words, whether it is a paragraph for seminar or a page for your research report. After you have gotten a start on thinking, observing, reading, etc., put all your sources away, close your notebooks, and write. Leave blanks for the detailed information you need to look up. Go back later and fill in those blanks, and reference your source at the end of your sentence (author, page). Credit your sources completely at the end of your paper.
You must proofread and rewrite. Go through all these steps for every single writing assignment, long or short:
You must say something unique and interesting to you, if it is going to be interesting to your reader. Lists of facts, however erudite, tend to be boring. For example: "Jupiter has 74 moons. Io is named for a chicken, Europa is named for a cow, Callisto is named for a musical instrument ... Io has volcanoes, Europa may have liquid water under its icy surface, Callisto is the source of an iron-rich meteorite... " So what?
Synthesize your knowledge in your own way. For example: "Careful observation of Jupiter's moons can let me weigh the planet! First I need to find out how far away Jupiter is, then I need to time the moons' orbits. Surprisingly, it doesn't matter how much each moon weighs, because ..." It goes without saying that you should be careful to check the accuracy of what you write.
Include a description of your project, your progress so far, each team member's tasks, an annotated bibliography (summarize the content, usefulness, level, and reliability of each source), and a list of goals you'd like to complete by the end of this quarter.
Give Zita a copy of the best article on your topic that
Here are some tried and true ideas for projects from 1999. Notice that that planets have moved! For example, you can observe the phases of Venus, but Mercury is difficult or impossible. Mars is not easy to see, but Jupiter is - so you could plot the motions of Jupiter's moons, as in the CLEA exercise and in Ferguson. Sunspots are easy to spot now, since we are at solar max! The same meteor showers are visible at the same times every year, and there are new objects in the sky, such as asteroids and human-made satellites.
Many of the examples in Ferguson are excellent starting points for research projects. Skim through his Exercises to see if there is one you'd like to do in depth.
Radio telescope with Sara