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2011 AAPT Summer Meeting
July 30-August 3, 2011
Omaha, Nebraska

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Astronomy, History, and Computer Simulations: Teaching the Nature of Science
  Location: SS 105
  Date: Monday, Aug.1
  Time: 1:40 PM -1:50 PM
  Author: Todd Timberlake, Berry College
(706) 368-5622,
  Co-Author(s): None
  Abstract: Introductory astronomy courses are among the most popular science courses taken by non-science majors in college. As a result, these courses represent a crucial opportunity to educate students about the nature of science. I have developed two courses that focus on teaching the nature of science through an exploration of the history of astronomy. One course examines the development of planetary astronomy from Aristotle to Isaac Newton. The other course follows changing notions about our place among the stars from Aristotle to Hubble. In both courses, students make frequent use of computer programs to simulate observations and to visualize theories. The goal of these activities is to help students see how scientific theories are judged against empirical data, consistency with other knowledge, and aesthetic criteria. Course materials are available at and
  Footnotes: None
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