AST 302 Projects
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The goal is for you to apply your science experience to public policy by researching and proposing
some sort of astronomically-related national initiative. There are actually a wide variety of
national efforts that relate to astronomy, including space science (e.g. Mars rovers), exploration (Apollo missions to the moon),
measurement (e.g. space weather observations), colonization (space elevators).
The project consists of three steps each with its own due date:
Your grade for the project will be based on your creativity, the quality of the research, the thoroughness
of the paper, and the appeal of your presentation. The work you turn in must be that of your group only. References used
must be adequately cited, and verbatim quotes must be identified as such. The weights of your total project grade are
shown above. Those sum to only 90%...the remainder is for participating in the discussion of the projects. I don't want to
be the only one asking questions.
- Choice of question: (20%)
Email me in plain text: (i) who is in the group (up to a max of three total people) (ii) what you plan to propose.
Be prepared to discuss your intentions in class.
- Preliminary Results and Outline: (30%)
At most two pages, you should explain the progress you've made and the sources you've consulted in addressing
your question. In addition, you should provide a rough outline of what you'll present and write up. Turn this
in to me by emailing me (in plain text; no Microsoft Word documents!). Except in unusual circumstances, you should
have at least three legitimate references sited. If any of your references are available online, please include links
If you want to do something a bit more unusual that does not
involve an oral presentation (e.g. a webpage), you must turn it in to me the class before the scheduled presentations
so that students can view/experience it before presentations. You should then be available for questions during
It's hard to write generally about which sources are good ones since these projects can span quite a range.
However, here are some general guidelines:
- Wikipedia is generally a fine place to start, but it's generally not authoritative. So if you want
to argue that there are lots of planets out there, fine, you can use Wikipedia as a reference. It's
not controversial. On the other hand, if you want to argue that intelligent life proliferates in
the Universe, then you need a more authoritative reference than Wikipedia.
- Peer-reviewed articles in reputable journals are the best reference. If your project is mostly
biographical though, you probably won't find much. Depending on your topic, you might look at either
Spires or ADS.
- The more controversial a statement you make, the more important it is to have a reference, and a good one
at that. If you get up in front of class and say the Moon's phases affect who wins the World Series, I'm
going to want to see who says that, how they back it up, and where it's been published.
Steve Liebling (home)