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  • mpbusch 8:47 pm on April 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , istb4, , outreach   

    LoCo Outreach 

    Hello LoCo followers! My name is Michael Busch; I am currently a sophomore at Arizona State University majoring in Astrophysics and Computational Mathematical Sciences. I started working in the Low-Frequency Cosmology (LoCo) Lab in August of 2013 under both Dr. Judd Bowman and (more directly) Dr. Danny Jacobs. The LoCo lab is involved with some awesome radio research, as Nithya described last post. This semester, I am helping Danny identify sources of noise in the power spectrum of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). One of my other regular duties in the lab is aiding in the lab’s education and public outreach department. LoCo participates at a majority of the events hosted by the School of Earth and Space Exploration, including Earth and Space Open Houses and other special events, such as Earth and Space Day and Night of the Open Door.

    Night of the Open Door occurred in March, this is the biggest public education and outreach event that Arizona State hosts. All of the colleges and schools in the University host their own events and open their doors to the public for them to see some of the cool research that lab groups and departments are conducting. Planning for this event had been ongoing for many months, and many different groups in the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) participated.

    As with many events well-planned and organized—catastrophic weather struck and monsoons doused the ASU Tempe campus.

    This was, overall, quite unlucky for the outdoor demonstrations across campus, but dramatically increased the influx of visitors to our building. LoCo had two tables full of demos and information for the public: including one of the dipole antennas used in the MWA, the Octocopter autonomous flying drone, Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) detectives, a giant word search puzzle, and a poster that I made explaining some of the general science behind the MWA. Despite the weather, Night of the Open Door yielded an amazing turnout, and the LoCo table was quite the hit!

    The LoCo lab at Night of the Open Door, with the Octocopter on display. From left to right, Michael, Danny, Tom, Jackie, and Nithya.

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

    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.


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