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SoLT – Physics and Astrophysics



What Faculty Say

Mark Guy, Teaching and Learning, and Timothy Young, Physics and Astrophysics

SoTL In 2012, we won a National Technology Leadership Initiative Fellowship, a national award for innovative use of technology to promote teaching and learning in science education. The award was shared with colleagues Cindy Grabe and Bruce Farnsworth.

We have collaborated for six years on various projects, grants, publications and other scholarly activities. In 2009, NSF funded our Beyond Earth

Project through a planning grant that targeted teaching astronomy to Native American youth using both Western science and Native science perspectives.

We have also developed innovative instructional strategies to understand complex and often misunderstood astronomy concepts. We have published articles on helping students better understand science content by guiding educators to teach science in more approachable ways — often challenging traditional ways of teaching science.  For example, in studying moon phases and eclipses, shadows are differentiated into self-shadows (moon phases) and cast-shadows (eclipses) for a more complete conceptual understanding of the behavior of light.

During 2009-2011, we took a state-of-the-art digital planetarium and iPads into 13 Grand Forks Public School classrooms and reached nearly 450 students with highly interactive 3D animations of astronomy topics.

This project, called SITE, Simulation Immersion in Teacher Education, was initially funded by the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education through a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiative and is continuing with limited UND and Grand Forks Public Schools funding. UND teacher candidates and classroom teachers taught their astronomy lessons in a learning environment that essentially transformed a classroom with corners into a classroom with curves.

The classroom become

a simulated outdoor “hands-on” experience studying planets, stars, galaxies and the cosmos in which all learners benefited.

Our goal is to teach physics and astronomy in a general conceptual way so that during daily life situations, students or teachers can better understand the specific phenomena happening all around them that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Editor’s note:  Tim Young was a 2005 Bush Teaching Scholar. Mark Guy received the UND Foundation Excellence in Teaching award in 2008.

Photos:  Through the use of this portable planetarium and iPad technology, young students gained an exciting introduction to astronomy topics.