Proposed course offers opportunity for Einstein exploration

By Jillian Frank

     Students looking for a different kind of class have a new one to choose. An Ammerman campus astronomy professor has proposed and created a new class , Einstein’s Universe (AST 295).

     “The big concepts in astronomy – the big bang, origin and death of universe, time travel, and black holes, have always intrigued me, even from when I was a young boy. These are also the topics that usually students enjoy learning about when they take astronomy 102 – stars and galaxies, even though we only briefly address them, and of course, these topics are completely divorced from everyday experience and so appeal to a student. I thought it would be a great idea to have a course that would deal with these concepts specifically,” said Dr. Mike Inglis, course originator.

     According to the course description, Einstein’s Universe is a class set on gaining an understanding and appreciation of astronomical events that have shaped our modern view of the Universe. Beginning with Galileo, and ending with Albert Einstein, it will show the students how the scientific process is performed, using observations of faint and distant object. It will also relate these observations to theoretical ideas created by Einstein. It will also cover very popular topics such as Black Holes, the possibility of time travel, and the future scenarios for the ultimate end of the universe. Students will also have an opportunity to observe some of the objects discussed in class, weather permitting, by using the department’s telescopes.

     Before this semester, AST 295 has only been offered as a special topics course. The course was very successful but being that a significant number of students in the other Astronomy course have shown an interest in the subject matter presented in the course, adopting the course as part of the general curriculum would offer another option for students who need to fulfill their laboratory science requirement.

     Inglis said he believed this course should not just be an elective. “The course has only been offered a few times so I am still adding content and deleting content as I progress. Once I am totally happy with the course, and believe it cannot be bettered, I will hopefully make it a Gen Ed course and offer it as part of the Astronomy majors,” he said.

     Students are expressing interest in the course. “I like the idea of this class. Instead of taking a normal science class such as Biology or Earth Science, I’d much rather take one that would make me think about science in a different perspective,” said Bryan Terry, a communications major. Another student, Heather Meader, agreed and said, “I think that could be a class I’d be interested in. Science is definitely not my favorite subject but if it’s a course like that maybe I would start to like it. It’s not something I’ve taken before in high school like Biology and Earth Science. I think that’s probably what I’d really like about it; It‘s something different and new.”

     In a survey taken at the Ammerman campus on Feb. 2, 20 random students were asked if they would like to take this course to fill a laboratory science requirement. Thirteen out of 20 students replied yes. In fact, Nine of those 13 students said they would rather take the class than Biology, Chemistry, or Earth Science.

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