Searching for Stellar Explosions to Teach the Process of Science

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Physics Teacher



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© 2018 American Association of Physics Teachers. Research-based science education (RBSE) is an instructional model that integrates scientific research with education by giving introductory-level undergraduate astronomy students an opportunity to do authentic research with real data. Its goals are threefold: (1) to teach that science is a process of discovery, not just a body of knowledge, (2) to improve attitudes towards science and STEM careers, and (3) to develop critical thinking, teamwork, and goal-driven work skills that are important in any career path. The RBSE curriculum currently consists of five authentic research projects in astronomy. Each project uses real astronomical data from professional observatories to investigate authentic research questions for which the answers are not known. In other words, in order to learn science, students are given the opportunity to actually do science. The results of RBSE student research have been submitted to scientific databases, presented at professional conferences, and published in refereed journals. In this paper we introduce the RBSE instructional model. To serve as an example, we also describe one of the RBSE research projects wherein students are searching for classical novae in the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). We encourage instructors interested in incorporating the RBSE curriculum into their teaching to learn more at the RBSE websites.

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