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Teaching graphing and energy from a blackbody radiation and H-R Diagram student rethink

Presentation #242.10 in the session Education Programs, Resources, and Research ­— iPoster Session.

Published onJun 29, 2022
Teaching graphing and energy from a blackbody radiation and H-R Diagram student rethink

Historically graphs of the “ultraviolet catastrophe” and the Hertzsprung-Russell (H-R) diagram have featured wavelength along the horizontal axis as the independent variable when considering stars in terms of their blackbody radiation spectrum or, separately, Wien’s Law peak colors of stars. Past arguments, generally from physicists, have suggested changing astronomy textbooks to use frequency or energy along the horizontal axis instead, but counter arguments express the fact that these presentations have become ingrained in the astronomical community and culture. Certainly, Cannon’s OBFGKM is an artifact of an outdated indexing and retaining it acts to offer historical context, as well as an opportunity to celebrate past woman astronomers’ cataloging work, and in that an encouragement for future scientists. Some educators have informally expressed that student’s interpretation of data on the H-R diagram can act as test of seriousness of students’ commitment to learning and their ability to overcome difficulty in interpreting data presented in non-intuitive manner on graphs. However, in terms of education opportunities, it is proffered here that this also represents an opportunity to engage students to encounter and then rethink the data and re-graph it themselves, encouraging them to better immerse in its meaning and implications and learn flexibility of data handling and presentation. A step-by-step applied learning process is outlined.

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