Using Real Data in the Classroom with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

Wednesday, 13 March 2019 9 a.m. — 10 a.m. MST

AURA Lecture Hall

NOIRLab South Colloquia
TRAVIS RECTOR (University of Alaska, Anchorage & LSST and Gemini/NOAO Visiting Astronomer)

The Education and Public Outreach (EPO) team of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is developing investigations for formal education (K-12 and college) that will use real LSST data products.  The investigations are being written as "notebooks" that will be accessed via a web browser. Embedded in the notebooks are widgets that enable students to interact with LSST data products.  

The six themes are: the Properties of Light, the Properties of Stars, the Milky Way and Galaxies, Cosmology, Variable Stars, and the Solar System. Each theme will consist of a foundational investigation and two "extension" investigations.  The investigations are being designed to explore topics commonly taught in astronomy classes that are closely related to LSST science goals.  All investigations will be populated with new LSST data products as they become available.  Prior to LSST commissioning the investigations will use other datasets.

To maximize adoptability, the notebooks are being written in HTML5 so they will function  on all computers and tablets. No software will need to be installed nor will any datasets need to be downloaded, enabling students to use the investigations and embedded widgets in or outside of class (e.g., for online classes).  The notebooks will be customizable to meet the needs of different instructors and classrooms.  All of the widgets are being written in a way that will allow them to be used for open-ended inquiry.  

As part of my talk I will briefly describe the six investigations and their associated widgets and data products.  I will also demo our first “nearly complete” notebook.