Deep Scenario-based Learning in Astronomy

Sean Lindsay – University of Tennessee

I will present a deep scenario-based learning experience created for an intermediate-level university astronomy course. The “Salvation of the Yggdrasil,” scenario is a three-chapter science fiction adventure. In each chapter, students must use fundamental astronomy and physics knowledge to solve unique challenges. The implementation of the scenario involves problem-based learning, design thinking, and collaborative group work amongst students. This poster presents the three chapters, the work the students do in completing the scenario, the student-centered philosophy and pedagogy employed, and how this scenario will serve as the heart of a new astronomy course at the University of Tennessee.

Chapter 1 focuses on observable properties of stars, stellar spectral types, stellar parallax, and Newtonian mechanics. Chapter 2 focuses on the energy production of stars through nuclear fusion. Chapter 3 focuses on the interstellar medium and radiative transfer. In aggregate, the scenario is designed to have the students work collaboratively and creatively to solve large-scale problems. A scenario-based choice was chosen to increase student investment and engagement through a rich story that provides the opportunity to solve problems designed to mimic real-world problem solving.

This scenario is being developed to serve as the heart of an upper level, special topics astronomy course at the University of Tennessee. The new class will focus on the application of knowledge gained while building critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Additionally, the new class fosters a connection between science, technology, ethics, and society. Initial IRB research has been conducted and will continue through this new class.


Deep Scenario-based Learning in Astronomy