Stars, Galaxies & the Universe, Oh My!

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This episode spurs discussion of the different shapes of galaxies, how many stars there are, and how far away from us stars are. The take home message is that there are about as many stars in the universe as grains of sand on the Earth's beaches. Students are guided through some fundamental geometry activities to demonstrate how astronomers calculate the vast distances of space.

Spaced Out: A Cosmic Scene

Have you ever questioned how astronomers and physicists know so much about the Universe? Can you explain and demonstrate how light and sound waves carry energy? Spaced Out: A Cosmic Scene tackles these questions and many more in a humorous and entertaining fashion while conveying insights into the study of astronomy and the physics of waves.

Spaced Out: A Cosmic Scene is a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) project funded by eTech Ohio and produced by the WOUB Center for Public Media at Ohio University, Athens. This web-based multimedia project consists of eight science and mathematics student video-on-demand modules for at-risk students in grades 8-10, and includes eight teacher self-study video support modules with assessment strategies. All content is aligned with the Ohio Academic Content Standards for physics and astronomy.

The student modules are designed to stimulate and inculcate higher order thinking skills, innate curiosity, and inquiry-based learning. Each student module focuses on specific key concepts: waves carry energy; waves transfer energy; size of the cosmos; measuring distances in space; scale modeling of the solar system; predictable motion of the earth and moon; stellar finger print; brief history of astronomy; and, the formation of all the elements. Intended to be utilized both independently by students with teacher oversight, and as a teaching-learning experience for an entire class, Spaced Out: A Cosmic Scene will entice and motivate even the most reluctant students to dig into astronomy, physics and mathematics content with enthusiasm.

The accompanying teacher modules for each episode of Spaced Out: A Cosmic Scene illustrate how key concepts may be taught, connections to the standards, and assessment strategies; expand on the materials in the student video, pointing out subtle points that might be missed or are not brought out in the student video; provide suggestions on how to incorporate the student video into daily classroom instruction; and, make connections to mathematics applications. In addition, the teacher modules are the link to curriculum resources - numerous curriculum links identify multiple web-based resources, which provide educators with further background information on the key concepts and student lessons suggestions for the classroom.

As one teacher who participated in the development of the project noted, "When I was a new teacher I struggled to find good, interactive resources to share with my students. This project has a wealth of information for teachers to share with their students and it includes assessments to evaluate their learning progress."

Spaced Out: A Cosmic Scene builds on the notion that we learn science by doing science!

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