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W. W. Norton
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By Stacy Palen Well, this isn’t going the way we planned! Goodness! As you may recall, I was already teaching in a substandard environment for the semester and now everything has moved online. Raise your hand if you were ready for that to happen! Yeah, me neither! We were about... Continue reading
How do we balance protecting individual rights and safeguarding public health? This question is at the heart of the current response to the COVID-19 global health crisis. In his March 21, 2020 WIRED article, Sidney Fussell asks whether using people’s smartphone data to track the virus is an infringement on privacy or a necessity to secure collective health and safety. Sidney Fussell, "How Surveillance Could Save Lives Amid a Public Health Crisis," WIRED, 21 March 2020 Fussell explains that smartphones can help government officials find potentially infectious people through a process called “contact tracing.” How does contact tracing work? Fussell... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2020 at They Say / I Blog
By Stacy Palen Typically, I lecture about light as a wave by showing students images of waves and describing wavelength, frequency, and velocity. Then I tell them that wavelength and color go together; that light of a particular color has a particular wavelength. However, when we would get to the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2020 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
By Stacy Palen & John Armstrong This week, we have a guest post from a colleague at Weber State University. John Armstrong is also teaching in the inadequate classroom. He is experimenting with a way to fill the time while he figures out what’s changed about the A/V situation since... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2020 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
Wash your hands. Stop touching your face. Avoid large crowds. This past week, we’ve been inundated with advice for stopping the spread of COVID-19. In her February 28, 2020 essay, Amanda Mull argues that pandemics like this one could be contained more easily if we addressed an underlying structural issue inherent in the American workplace: the lack of paid sick leave. Amanda Mull, "The Problem with Telling Sick Workers to Stay Home," The Atlantic, 28 February 2020 Mull makes a comparison between two categories of American workers: those with good health care and paid sick time, and those without such... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2020 at They Say / I Blog
By Stacy Palen According to this article on The Guardian, when the New Horizons spacecraft arrived at Arrokoth, it revealed a surprising world. Now, planetary scientists are beginning to reconsider their conclusions about the formation of the Solar System. This new discovery appears to favor a gentler model of planet... Continue reading
Active shooter lockdown drills are now common in U.S. schools, in response to recent deadly school shootings. In 2019, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers worked with the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund to issue a report calling for the end of these drills. Jaclyn Schildkraut, a researcher who investigates school shootings, argues back and makes her case for why lockdown drills are necessary in this February 12, 2020 essay. Jaclyn Schildkraut, "Schools Should Heed Calls to Do Lockdown Drills without Traumatizing Kids Instead of Abolishing Them,"The Conversation, 12 February 2020 Schildkraut’s response... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2020 at They Say / I Blog
By Stacy Palen I recently stumbled upon this article from The Washington Post about stardust on Earth. Mineral dust in the Murchison meteorite shows traces of neon produced by cosmic rays as the dust traveled through space. The abundance of neon atoms indicates that the dust was formed 7 billion... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2020 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
Quick! Which state leads the country in electing women of color to executive office? The answer? New Mexico. It’s not a “fluke,” Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux and Meredith Conroy contend in their FiveThirtyEight essay published on January 31, 2020. Rather, they argue, the work that has been done in New Mexico to put women in office can be used as a blueprint in other states to make our government reflect the diversity of the people it represents. Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux and Meredith Conroy, "Why New Mexico Elects More Women of Color Than the Rest of the Country," FiveThirtyEight, 31 January 2020 Thomson-DeVeaux and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2020 at They Say / I Blog
By Stacy Palen The phases of the Moon are one of those topics that has been extensively studied by the astronomy education research community and is well-known to be more complex than most people think. There’s the change of perspective from Earth-view to space-view. There are multiple motions at once... Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2020 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
By Stacy Palen Recently, my students worked on the “Working with Kepler’s Laws” activity from the Learning Astronomy by Doing Astronomy workbook. In this activity, students learn about ellipses, consider the “simple” version of Kepler’s second law (a planet travels faster when nearer to the Sun and slower when farther... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2020 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
Too often, the most pressing debates about gender (i.e. sexual assault, equal pay) are simplified to women’s-only issues. That’s a problem. In this November 12, 2019 YES! piece, nine people discuss our collective responsibility in these conversations and debate how men should participate in the #MeToo movement. Alex Meyers, Earth-Feather Sovereign, Imara Jones, Kalimah Johnson, Kendrick Sampson, Maru Mora Villalpando, Sady Doyle, Tarana Burke, and Tony Porter, "Can We Build a Better Man?" YES!, 12 November 2019 All nine people featured in this conversation are responding to the same questions: “What is men’s role in the #MeToo movement, and what... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2020 at They Say / I Blog
By Stacy Palen Here’s the thing: all students have a calculator in their phone. And for a long time, I've thought, “They should use the calculator in their phone so they know how to use the calculator in their phone!” But here’s the other thing: a lot of those calculators... Continue reading
By Stacy Palen Last week, we continued our struggle with the lack of AV equipment in our temporary teaching space. In order to teach the seasons in this space, I rewrote an old activity that used an overhead projector and a piece of cardboard with a hole cut out to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2020 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
The generational divide is real, captured in “ok, boomer” eyerolls, “Karen” memes, and complaints about those tech-obsessed, lazy millennials. James Hatch is a 52-year-old Navy veteran, a Purple Heart recipient, and a freshman at Yale University. He’s working to bridge the divide in his defense of college students, published in GEN on December 21, 2019. James Hatch, "My Semester with the Snowflakes," GEN, 21 December 2019 Hatch responds to “they say” arguments that portray today’s college students in a negative, unflattering way. Where does he hear these “they say” arguments, and what are their central claims? Many of these “they... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2020 at They Say / I Blog
There are some places around the world that carry significant meaning, not just for the local community, but for all humankind. These places are the stuff of bucket lists, the wonders of the world, marked for preservation and protection because they stand for our common humanity. Elizabeth Silkes, the Executive Director of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, argues for the importance of protecting cultural and historical sites in this January 10, 2020 TIME essay. Elizabeth Silkes, "Cultural Heritage Reminds Us of Our Shared Humanity. That’s Why Threats Against Them Are So Dangerous." TIME, 10 January 2020 In the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2020 at They Say / I Blog
By Stacy Palen In my family, we have a saying, “This will have been a good time.” We use it to refer to upcoming events that will be stressful and potentially awful, but that we will remember fondly once they have passed. For example, when my snake-phobic husband and I... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2020 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
By Stacy Palen A new composite image released by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory superimposes radio data on a visual image of a galaxy. Magnetic fields here are shown in blue and green, indicating alternate directions. Here are some questions that you can ask your students based on this image:... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2020 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
“What’s this Afrofuturism I keep hearing about?” Scott Woods responds to this question in his December 27, 2019 essay, “The Decade Afrofuturism Reshaped Science Fiction and the World,” published in LEVEL. Scott Woods argues that Afrofuturism—an artistic, cultural, and political movement—has moved from fringe to mainstream culture in the 2010s, and he imagines what Afrofuturism might offer in the next decade. Scott Woods, "The Decade Afrofuturism Reshaped Science Fiction and the World," LEVEL, 27 December 2019. Woods spends time in the first half of his essay setting up his “they say”: he explains how others define Afrofuturism, and he points... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2020 at They Say / I Blog
Merriam-Webster chose “they” as its 2019 word of the year, a testament to the political and personal importance of pronouns. Benjamin Dreyer, vice president of Random House and self-described “word person by trade,” explains why this choice matters for everyone in his Washington Post op-ed, published on December 16, 2019. Benjamin Dreyer, "Language Is Here to Serve All of Us. Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year Shows That." The Washington Post, 16 December 2019 What are the reasons why the singular “they” is useful? In what circumstances do people use the singular “they,” and how does it serve their needs better... Continue reading
Posted Dec 24, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
Credit: NASA/SDO By Stacy Palen Just in time for the close of the semester, we get a present from NASA! According to this article on NPR, the Parker Solar Probe has arrived at the Sun, and it’s sending us back some big surprises. Here are some questions, inspired by the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2019 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
Credits: NASA/STScI By Stacy Palen Supernova 1987a may be the most well-studied supernova in history. But the “corpse” had not been found! However, this may have changed according to this article from Scientific American. Here are some questions you can ask based on this article: 1) How long ago was... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2019 at Teaching Astronomy by Doing Astronomy
When you go to the movies, what are you looking for? To see something surprising, challenging, or unexpected? Or to be happily entertained, consuming a bag of popcorn along with the latest superhero sequel? Perhaps your expectations are shaped by the Hollywood film industry and their willingness to take risks. Martin Scorsese, award-winning filmmaker and director, critiques modern film franchises in his November 4, 2019 op-ed in The New York Times. Think, as you read his piece, about how Scorsese’s perspective on the purpose of films might be different from yours, and why that might be. Martin Scorsese, “I Said... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2019 at They Say / I Blog
By Stacy Palen In my other life, I train horses and riders. This means that I routinely deal with actual life-threatening situations like runaway horses and bad falls. Even non-life-threatening situations such as broken bones, giant bruises, bumps, cuts, and scrapes can seem routine to me but be scary for... Continue reading
How do we measure progress? Coleman Hughes, a 23-year-old Columbia University student, looks at this question in his essay, “The Case for Black Optimism,” published in September 2019 in Quillette, an international online journal. Hughes makes the claim that black Americans are better off today than they have ever been, and he argues that this progress should be emphasized more in conversations about the state of black America. As you read, pay attention to how Hughes uses data and statistics to back up his claims.span> Coleman Hughes– “The Case for Black Optimism” – Quillette, 28 September 2019 Hughes creates his... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2019 at They Say / I Blog