Cumberland Times-News

Bob Doyle - Astronomy

May 18, 2014

Technology helps with learning, but take care


A new episode airs each Sunday at 9 p.m. on FOX. (It is also shown on the National Geographic Channel on Monday evenings.) After tonight’s episode, two more remain. I hope that the series will be rerun this summer on National Geographic.

The second major use of technology is online courses over the Internet. I have taught online versions of two different science classes.

Online courses requite a higher level of basic skills (reading, writing and calculating) and concentration than regular classes.

I give medium length assignments nearly every school day (Monday through Friday). Ignoring such a course for a few days is risky.

Whenever possible, I make the questions relevant to each student’s experiences. I also give each student a unique set of numbers so correct numerical answers will vary from student to student.

As a considerable fraction of students don’t deal with numbers in their other courses, I also include worked out solutions with my numbers so my students can see how they can do the problems with their own numbers.

In spite of my warnings, online students are tempted to go on cruises or visit places where the Internet isn’t available. (I usually teach three-week online courses in January.) The real advantage of online classes is that they can be taken by parents taking care of their preschoolers or a student taking care of
an elderly person.

SKY SIGHTS AHEAD: The moon has retreated to the early morning skies. So this week offers a chance to see some fainter evening star groups (if weather permits).

The Big Dipper is high in the North. Above the handle area are a few faint stars called Canes Venatici (the hunting dogs) and even higher is Coma Berenices (the hair of Berenice). Coma is a dispersed star cluster of old stars.

You might also look for the Little Dipper. The two end stars of the Big Dipper’s scoop points down to the North Star, a modest star about half way between the Northern horizon and the top of the sky.

The North Star is the end star of the Little Dipper’s handle.

The Little Dipper’s handle of faint stars curves rightward and up to two modest stars called the Guardians.

Bob Doyle invites any readers comments and questions. Email him at . He is available as a speaker on his column topics.

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Bob Doyle - Astronomy
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