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CNM Hosts NASA-sponsored Astronomy Workshop

August 28, 2013 -- Some 35 current and future astronomy and space science instructors attended a NASA-funded workshop at CNM August 24 where they learned about new ways to engage and teach their astronomy students.
CNM Hosts NASA-sponsored Astronomy Workshop

Phil Carman, interim dean of the School of Math, Science & Engineering, with Rica French, left, and Gina Brissenden.

The workshop was arranged by Phil Carman, interim dean of the School of Math, Science & Engineering. Presenters were Gina Brissenden of the Center for Astronomy Education (CAE) at the University of Arizona and Rica French of MiraCosta College in California. NASA, through the Jet Propulsion Laboratory NASA Exoplanet Exploration Program, provided funding.

“CNM was very pleased and excited to host this workshop for astronomy educators, and we hope to host more of these in the future,” Carman said. “After the workshop I spoke with several participants who were excited by what they had learned and are planning to implement some new instructional techniques demonstrated in the workshop in their own classes.”

Attending were astronomy and space science instructors from New Mexico, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas, Mexico and England.

Brissenden said CAE holds these “Teaching Excellence Workshops” several times a year. Two are at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society, the major organization of professional astronomers in North America, and two regional workshops, generally at a community college. CNM was selected because of its high-quality instruction in the fields of astronomy and its central location.

Workshop goers participated in hands-on activities that gave them insight as to how to increase their students’ conceptual understandings, improve their abilities to think critically, motivate them to actively engage in their learning and improve their effectiveness.

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