Monday, March 28, 2011

NASA Grants Create New Learning Opportunities

LAS has two new learning opportunities sponsored by Nevada NASA Space Grant Consortium.

Summer 2011: Research in Astronomy
Students will engage in research projects to rediscover some of the monumental findings in astronomy. For example, the class will confirm the expansion of the universe using cutting-edge data collected by one of the most ambitious, influential and ongoing surveys in the history of astronomy, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. In its third phase, this survey, with its 2.5 meter telescope in New Mexico, is diligently capturing and storing deep sky data. After learning the relevant concepts in astronomy, the students will dive into the data from this digital survey to answer some key questions:

How do you find the age of a star cluster?
How do we weigh a galaxy?
How do we know we have dark matter in the universe?

The projects will introduce students to theory, data collection, data processing, programming, data analysis and literature search – aspects which are integral part of conducting research in astronomy. 

This course will be taught by Dr. Sandip Thanki.

Dr. Thanki and astronomy students at NSC.

The 2.5 meter SDSS Telescope
A star cluster

A spiral galaxy

All space photos courtesy of The Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

A Fall 2011 Course: Global Warming
With the first grant in 2009, a new environmental science course was developed to give students experience in natural hazards investigations using satellite imagery and ground-truth surveys.  Students identified hazardous cliff collapse areas along a section of the Las Vegas Wash inside Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

The recent award is for developing and conducting an introductory course in climate change science.  In this course students will investigate climate basics and gain an understanding of why our global climate is changing. This course will include discussions about:

What are the causes of climate change? 
What is the science behind climate change?
What are the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and societal welfare? 
What can or should we do about it?

The course will investigate the major scientific data and projections by NASA and by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports to understand why most scientists believe Earth’s climate is in a state of human-caused crisis.

This new course will be offered fall semester 2011 under the name GEOL 110, Global Warming for three general science credits.  It will be taught by Dr. Edwin Price

Dr. Price and NSC environmental science students out in the field.

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