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January-March 2007 updates for Mr. Blackwell

Published: March 15, 2007

Data from the Star Formation Rates of galaxy clusters at different z: The team has all the data now. The reduction has been completed. All the teachers in the group have it through emails. Analysis of the data continues on an individual basis although the team is having issues with remaining fresh in communications.

Lessons in Mr. Blackwell's Astronomy-II class are now using some of the data for education about IR wavelength astronomy. Students are particularly fond of images in particular - less fond of the raw numeric data, as expected. He uses the images to grab their attention and then help them explore the morphology of galaxies and the ideas of gravitational attraction and such. This then leads to explanations of IR light, how IR studies of galaxies help astronomers and what can be gleaned from that information. Star formation rates are then brought to light along with AGNs and their corruption of the data if they are present. Mr. Blackwell uses the ARBSE AGN project data (FIRST quasar data) to allow students to explore that avenue. Students then use all this information to answer such questions as: was there a spike in overall star formation rates in our universe's past?

Talks to the New Hampshire Astronomical Society and the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium (public) have gone well. The former drew 50+ people, mostly adults from the local community. The latter drew 80 people with age ranges from 10 to adult. Mr. Blackwell is focusing mainly on the topics of galactic IR astronomy, Spitzer, and what we have learned by using it.

Future plans: Mr. Blackwell is running the first of three astronomy conferences for teachers this June. He will be spending a day discussing the Spitzer project and IR astronomy in the hopes of exciting the teachers into spending more time teaching other wavelengths (other than visual). This conference is hosted by his school through a private gift. The purpose is to promote astronomy education at the high school level and to have a meeting of the minds for high school astronomy teachers. More information is online at: http://www.exeter.edu/Astronomy/4380_4634.aspx

 

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