Yerkes reaching out to younger crowd... Jul 3, 2006 22:54:04 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jul 3, 2006 22:54:04 GMT -6
Observatory moves to new mission of drawing students into astronomy
The University of Chicago, which now owns and operates Yerkes, wants to sell the observatory and its 79-acre grounds to a New York developer for $8 million. As the university moves its astronomical research to newer facilities in Chicago and prepares to cut ties to the old observatory, Yerkes is moving into its new role in education.
Lucy Fortson, and , Kate Meredith, were at Yerkes last week working with educators and astronomers from around the country to develop a student- and teacher-friendly Internet astronomy database.
Fortson is vice president of research at Adler Planetarium in Chicago and senior research associate at the University of Chicago. Meredith is working with Adler to develop the new Internet tools.
Yerkes is now a key part of Hands-On Universe, a National Science Foundation program that allows high school students to work with real astronomical data. Funding also comes from NASA and the states of Illinois and Wisconsin.
"This is not education in which people come in and lecture in a classroom," Cudworth said. "We're helping students work with real data."
Adler and Yerkes also are working with educators and students as part of a project to track the movements of near-earth asteroids.
Students compare several photographs of the sky and try to track the motions of the asteroids relative to stars and planets.
Teachers tend to stand back and let the students make the discoveries, whether of asteroids or other astronomical phenomena, Cudworth said.
"The way most of the teachers work," he said, "is to have the students have the 'Eureka!' moment."