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2013 Meeting Plenary Session Videos

Comet ISON and STEM Public Outreach

Monday, July 22, 2013
Alex Filippenko, UC Berkeley

If it lives up to expectations, Comet ISON (more formally, C/2012 S1) may become the most spectacular comet to be seen from northern hemisphere skies since Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. Dr. Filippenko will describe comets and their importance, as well as when and how to observe this particular comet and what we might expect to see. Comet ISON provides us with a great opportunity to stimulate public interest in astronomy, especially among young people. Also, the date of this talk, July 22, is “pi approximation day” (22/7 is roughly pi, 3.14…), and Dr. Filippenko will present some interesting facts about pi that can be used to get students more excited about STEM fields.

A Planet for Goldilocks

Monday July 22
Natalie Batalha, San Jose State University

The search for life beyond Earth has inspired Solar System exploration and SETI surveys. Today, the search for life also leads to exoplanet discovery and characterization. Launched in March 2009, NASA’s Kepler Mission has discovered thousands of exoplanets with diverse properties. Though each new world is interesting in its own right, Kepler aims to understand the population as a whole. Its primary objective is to determine the frequency of exoplanets of different sizes and orbital periods. Of special interest are the earth-size planets in the Goldilocks (or Habitable) Zone where the flux of incoming starlight is conducive to the existence of surface liquid water. Once Kepler establishes the prevalence of such planets in the Solar neighborhood, future missions can be designed to find not just a planet in the Goldilocks Zone but a planet for Goldilocks — a truly habitable environment for life as we know it. Kepler discoveries and progress will be described as well as the resources available to bring Kepler science to the public and into the classroom. The possibility of finding evidence of life beyond earth is working its way into the public consciousness and has the potential to inspire generations. Scientific literacy is a natural consequence of awakening the spirit of exploration and discovery that led Goldilocks into the forest and leads humans into space.

Implications of the Next Generations Science Standards for K–12, EPO, and Higher Education

Wednesday July 24

Greg Schultz, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, moderator
Jacquey Barber, UC Berkeley, Lawrence Hall of Science, panelist
Rick Pomeroy, UC Davis, panelist
Glenn Reagan, Folsom Lake College, panelist

The newly-released Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have been under development for a few years, with broad community input, and explicit involvement of many states likely to adopt these as their own science standards. Several key features of the NGSS make these a substantial advance from the existing National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996), including focus on three dimensions previously outlined in A Framework for K–12 Science Education (NRC, 2011): Science and Engineering Practices; Crosscutting Concepts; and Disciplinary Core Ideas. What are the implications of all this now for K–12 educators, in the immediate term and in the long term? What do the NGSS imply for EPO professionals, especially those involved in science curriculum development and teacher professional development? What should higher education faculty know about the NGSS, especially as to what it means for the preparation of incoming college students, as well as the education of future elementary and secondary science teachers in college (including in Astro 101-type courses)? This diverse panel of science education experts will help tackle these questions and more.

Learning and the Net Generation

Wednesday July 24

Dave Bruning, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, moderator
Doug Duncan, University. of Colorado, panelist
Alex Rudolph, Cal. State Polytechnic U.-Pomona, panelist

We all make assumptions about our students, but are they valid? Do these inferred characteristics really impact student learning? What do learning surveys tell us about the best teaching practices? Are students really the multitaskers they profess to be? Does student addiction to electronic devices and their in-class use impact learning outcomes? Do electronic devices affect other students and their learning? This plenary session will have two short presentations followed by a lively discussion that will attempt to answer these questions.