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Conference Program
 
Physics Research & Education
Astronomy’s Discoveries and Physics Education
June 17-22, 2012
Colby College
Waterville, ME

"Astronomy’s Discoveries and Physics Education" was the topic of the 2012 Physics Research and Education Gordon Research Conference. At this GRC a distinguished group of speakers reviewed major discoveries and technologies of astronomy and astrophysics. They and members of the astronomy and physics education research communities explored and revealed ways to use this material to enrich and enhance undergraduate physics education. As with all GRCs, advancing research frontiers was an important goal, but, in addition, this conference sought to motivate participants to create astronomy-based teaching materials that will convey to students the excitement of these frontiers and also entice physicists to use them as contexts for teaching physics in their undergraduate courses. The conference’s format - invited plenary sessions, contributed poster presentations, and generous amounts of unscheduled time for informal discussions - promoted dialogue and cross-fertilization of ideas between educators and researchers at the forefront of their fields.

The participants were a stimulating and diverse group sharing an interest in fostering the use of astronomy’s discoveries to better teach physics to undergraduates. The126 attendees included active researchers in astronomy and astrophysics -- some with well-established reputations and others early in their careers. Also attending were authors of books that present physics in a strong astronomy context, developers of curricula and educational materials, physics and astronomy education researchers, research associates (postdocs), and a remarkable group of graduate students, many of them nominated by their mentors as outstanding teaching assistants in physics or astronomy. There were faculty from two-year colleges, from four-year colleges, and from teaching and research universities; there were people involved in a variety of outreach programs in and outside the United States.


Contributors

SUNDAY
4:00 pm - 8:00 pmArrival and Check-in (Office Closed 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm)
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 7:40 pmWelcome / Introductory Comments by GRC Site Staff
7:40 pm - 9:30 pmThe Physics in Astronomy's Discoveries & Technologies
Discussion Leader: Charles H. Holbrow (Colgate University / MIT)
7:40 pm - 8:20 pmRobert Kirshner (Harvard)
"The Energetic Universe"
8:20 pm - 8:35 pmDiscussion
8:35 pm - 9:15 pmNoah Finkelstein (University Colorado)
"Evolve or Die: Challenges in Physics Education at a Critical Time"
9:15 pm - 9:30 pmDiscussion
MONDAY
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmExoplanets: New Worlds - How to find them; what they're like
Discussion Leader: Sara Seager (MIT)
9:00 am - 9:40 amDavid Charbonneau (Harvard)
"How the Hunt for Habitable Worlds with Kepler Can Inspire Students in Physics"
9:40 am - 10:00 amDiscussion
10:00 amGroup Photo / Coffee Break
10:30 am - 11:10 amDoug Caldwell (NASA - SETI)
"Finding and Understanding Exoplanets using Undergraduate Physics"
11:10 am - 11:30 amDiscussion
11:30 am - 12:10 pmScott Gaudi (The Ohio State University)
"How to Conduct a Census of Exoplanets"
12:10 pm - 12:30 pmDiscussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmWhat is Being Done at Smaller Institutions
Discussion Leader: Mario Belloni (Davidson College)
7:30 pm - 7:50 pmDan Reichart (UNC Chapel Hill)
"Project Intro Astro: Skynet Robotic Telescope-Based Labs for Majors and Non-Majors"
7:50 pm - 8:00 pmDiscussion
8:00 pm - 8:20 pmLarry Marschall (Gettysburg College)
"Astronomical Research in an Undergraduate Setting: Exploring the Real Sky at Gettysburg College Observatory and the Virtual Sky through Project CLEA"
8:20 pm - 8:30 pmDiscussion
8:30 pm - 8:50 pmTodd Timberlake (Berry College)
"Engaging with the History of Astronomy"
8:50 pm - 9:00 pmDiscussion
9:00 pm - 9:20 pmWolfgang Christian (Davidson College)
"ComPADRE Digital Library Resources for Teaching Astronomy"
TUESDAY
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmObservational Cosmology: New Horizons
Discussion Leader: Robert Kirshner (Harvard University)
9:00 am - 9:40 amTony Tyson (U C Davis)
"Imaging the Invisible: Optical Instrumentation for Cosmology"
9:40 am - 10:00 amDiscussion
10:00 amCoffee Break
10:30 am - 11:10 amChristopher Stubbs (Harvard University)
"Why has the discovery of dark energy precipitated a crisis in fundamental physics?"
11:10 am - 11:30 amDiscussion
11:30 am - 12:10 pmBryan Penprase (Pomona College)
"Beacons of the Early Universe - Detecting Elements from the First Stars and Galaxies from Quasar and Gamma-Ray-Burst Spectra"
12:10 pm - 12:30 pmDiscussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmTeaching Physics with Astronomy: What AER & PER tell us
Discussion Leader: Hashima Hasan (NASA)
7:30 pm - 8:00 pmEd Prather (University of Arizona)
"Astronomy Education Research: Providing a framework for integrating our understanding of the universe into the physics classroom"
8:00 pm - 8:10 pmDiscussion
8:10 pm - 8:40 pmSeth Hornstein (University of Colorado)
"Enlivening Physics Education through Astronomy Research: Extrasolar Planets & Black Holes"
8:40 pm - 8:50 pmDiscussion
8:50 pm - 9:20 pmDean Zollman (Kansas State University)
"Context Matters: Insights from transfer research on teaching physics with examples from astronomy"
9:20 pm - 9:30 pmDiscussion
WEDNESDAY
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmStars & Physics
Discussion Leader: Beth Willman (Haverford College)
9:00 am - 9:40 amPeter Parker (Yale University)
"Stars in the Laboratory"
9:40 am - 10:00 amDiscussion
10:00 amCoffee Break
10:30 am - 11:10 amAmanda Karakas (Australian National University)
"Why we don't understand the origin of the elements as well as we think we do!"
11:10 am - 11:30 amDiscussion
11:30 am - 12:10 pmAndrew West (Boston University)
"The Statistical Power of Billions of Stars: Stellar and Galactic Astronomy in the Era of Deep All-Sky Surveys"
12:10 pm - 12:30 pmDiscussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:00 pm - 7:30 pmBusiness Meeting
Nominations for the next Vice Chair; Fill out Conference Evaluation Forms; Discuss future Site & Scheduling preferences; Election of the next Vice Chair
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmFrontiers of Astronomy's Instruments & Detectors
Discussion Leader: Randy Peterson (University of the South)
7:30 pm - 8:10 pmAlan Rogers (MIT Haystack Observatory)
"Examples of Radio Astronomy Instrumentation for research and education"
8:10 pm - 8:30 pmDiscussion
8:30 pm - 8:50 pmPaul Bierden (Boston Micromachines)
"Adaptive optics for astronomers and others"
8:50 pm - 9:00 pmDiscussion
9:00 pm - 9:20 pmJohn Taranto (Thorlabs)
"Adaptive optics for the undergraduate laboratory"
9:20 pm - 9:30 pmDiscussion
THURSDAY
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmGravitational Radiation & Interesting Objects
Discussion Leader: Barbara Ryden (The Ohio State University)
9:00 am - 9:40 amDuncan Brown (Syracuse University)
"The New Astronomy of LIGO"
9:40 am - 10:00 amDiscussion
10:00 amCoffee Break
10:30 am - 11:10 amGreg Bothun (University of Oregon)
"Astronomy: Data Driven Inquiry to Reveal the Physics"
11:10 am - 11:30 amDiscussion
11:30 am - 12:10 pmLucy Fortson (University of Minnesota)
"The Extreme Universe: The Science and Tools of High Energy Astrophysics in the Classroom"
12:10 pm - 12:30 pmDiscussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmAstronomy Based Materials for Teaching Physics: What should they be? Who will make them?
Discussion Leader: Ed Prather (University of Arizona)
7:30 pm - 8:10 pmRapporteur: Sterl Phinney (Caltech)
"Can astrophysics revitalize physics education? Should it?"
8:10 pm - 8:30 pmDiscussion
8:30 pm - 9:10 pmPanel: Joseph Amato (Colgate University), Greg Bothun (University of Oregon) and Tom O'Kuma (Lee College)
"Where do we go next? What will you do to get us there?"
9:10 pm - 9:30 pmDiscussion
FRIDAY
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 amDeparture

 
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