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  • margaretelizabethblumm 10:18 am on August 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , conference, education, , ,   

    Astronomical Society of the Pacific Meeting 

    Recently, I attended the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s annual Education and Public Outreach conference in San Jose, CA to represent the Low-Frequency Cosmology Group (LoCo Lab).  It was an amazing experience!  I met with many people involved in the educational outreach community from across the nation.

    I presented a postertitled “RFI Detectives: Raising Awareness of the Radio Sky” describing an activity we modified to use for large public events.  This activity helps us to teach aboutradio wavelengths, frequency, and radio astronomy using hand-held radios to let children search for sources of radio frequency interference; or RFI, for themselves.  We adapted the activity from the NRAO activity “Be an RFI Detective”.  Many people came by to view and discuss my poster, and seemed quite interested in the research we are doing.

    I attended numerous talks about a variety of things, from the politics of astronomy education to how to teach astronomy to preschoolers.  Everyone was so knowledgeable and incredibly kind.  I networked and make contacts that will assist in future efforts toward a career in education outreach.

    One of the sessions I went to was about how to teach the scale of the Universe.  I was amazed to see how far apart the planets are.  We had string that was scaled to the distance of the planets (I don’t remember what the scale factor was), and we stretched out the Solar System.  I objectively knew that the distances were huge, but seeing how the outer planets wouldn’t even fit in the room was surprising.

    The conference provided an invaluable learning experience and was fascinating. I am very grateful that I was able to go and meet so many like-minded people who share my passion for teaching the world about the wonders of space. This was a wonderful opportunity and I will make sure to use all I have learned to improve the outreach here and get people more interested in space.


  • margaretelizabethblumm 7:56 pm on September 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Dr. U, ,   

    Dr. U 

    An important part of science is public outreach.  What is the point of making fascinating new discoveries when the general public doesn’t understand them?  I’m working on a project to remedy that.

    Using Dr. U in the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Center.

    Dr. Universe will be an App that can provide a way for people to ask their space science questions.  It will give them answers by searching its own internal database.

    My job is to think about questions people might ask and then look up answers.  So far I have answered more than 11,000 questions just about our solar system!  I have learned so much about the planets.  For example, did you know that winds in Saturn’s upper atmosphere reach 1,091 mph (1,800 km/h)? (In contrast, the strongest hurricane-force winds on Earth top out at about 245 mph, or 396 km/h.)  I knew that the giant planets were windy, but I hadn’t expected anything that fast.

    I have now started on stars and galaxies, and it is challenging to try to fit the entire universe into a spreadsheet!  We know so much about the Universe, but this process also really makes you realize how little we are certain of.

    Keep an eye for Dr. U; we hope to start doing pilot tests by the end of the year.

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