In this experiential course, students gain experience in education and public outreach by participating in, and organizing, activities such as astronomy open houses, telescope viewings, planetarium shows, Astronomy
tutoring, and peer coaching. By working with the Astronomy Department faculty and staff on these activities, students expand their own understanding of astronomy and develop skills to communicate scientific principles and discoveries to the general public.
Students average four hours per week per credit of outreach-related activities under supervision of an instructor. Required training included (e.g., telescope operation). Each student must submit a plan and a schedule of events to execute. The plan must include the student's goals, such as improving ability to present astronomy to the public, becoming an accomplished operator of the Fitz telescope, or gaining experience with large event planning. Students must submit regular reports outlining what was accomplished during the reporting period, including how the time was spent and detailed plans for the next period. The report should include a reflection on how the student is achieving his/her goals, and specifics on what (if anything) the student should do to improve. The report should also comment on the overall team performance for group activities. Reports are due every two weeks for 1-credit, and every week for all other students. An on-line journal or blog is also encouraged.
Students with an interest in astronomy who plan teaching or other professions that require public science communication. The course will also be valuable for students who plan to go to graduate programs, since public outreach is an important and expected function for professional astronomers.
Students will usually work in assigned teams of 2-3 people. The teams will have weekly meetings with the instructor to ensure goals are met and to plan events.