ASP2020: A Virtual Conference
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An Online Service Learning Project for Introductory Astronomy
Service-learning is a teaching strategy that integrates meaningful community service with course learning goals. For the past three years the laboratory component of the general education astronomy course (PHY 111 Introduction to Astronomy) at Berea College has been designed around a service-learning project in which students develop outreach activities for the local community. Past activities have included merit badge workshops for local Scouts, a model solar system which will be installed between the College and a neighboring K-12 school, and public sky parties at the Berea College Forestry Outreach Center. In the Fall of 2020, the course was moved to synchronous online instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the semester was compressed from 15 weeks to 7. Together these changes created unique challenges in the design of both the laboratory component of the course and the service-learning project. Nine students participated in the service-learning project by developing video sky tours utilizing the Stellarium open-source planetarium software. These videos were incorporated into an online outreach program to local middle school students. In this presentation I will give a brief overview of the service-learning curriculum and discuss how moving from live interactions with the public to pre-recorded video changed the dynamic of the course.
Conference Strand: Public Engagement in Informal Settings