A journal of cognition, computation, cartoons and cooking; physics and phonotactics; academia, art, alcohol and angst.

Monday, August 4, 2008

See - tech - astronomy

Bonus points for who gets the title of this post, a reference to one of the greatest movies of all time (with the greatest Sydney Poitier role of all time!).

So I finished teaching the last AST104 lab on Thursday, which was quite a lame but quick one. It's amazing how much we're able to cram into these non-science kids' heads in a 6-week summer course, but my hope is that they come out of this with two things: first that they appreciate the artistic beauty of what's in the universe, and second that they have some understanding of how science works. For most of these people, this will be the first, last, and only science course they will take in college, so it's absolutely critical that they get particularly the second point.

Now I love astronomy. Always have. But I'm also a physicist, so it makes it easy for me to appreciate it. How about the non-scientists who can get into this stuff - what motivates you? What is it about astronomy that you find interesting, that you'd like to learn more about? The students have a week left of class and then they're done with science for good, but many of them will still be coming to observation nights with me and turning in labs, so I'd like to be able to give them some final word to take home.

And as far as the tech goes, a college education cannot be complete without learning computer operation and basic programming. There is nothing more fundamental to the understanding of logic and scientific thought, and nothing more useful to every field. Programming should be a part of every student's computer education, especially since most students don't need basic computer operation in the first place since they probably know more about them than their teachers.

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