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[school-discuss] evaluation of astronomy applications for grades 7-12


i tried out all the astronomy applications and tried to use each one to create 
materials for the etc... solar system series using the packages.

I have sucessfully assembled a package that has sufficient materials to
supply a class.  Here's the inventory :

1 - xplns observatory.

This one can trace planetary orbits and constellations from your location
with name labels, and can be speeded / slowed.  The same can be done for 
constellations. planetary and solar system animations are easy too. I used 
gimp to capture screen shots, then invert them so they are black ink on white 
background.  This prints quick, and uses little ink.  The installation on 
redhat is simple, all rpm installs.  It is fast on old computers, and has no 
special video card requirement.

Close ups of planets are not available, but are not useful in a classroom 
anyway, because they lack the definition and detail that NASA'a zoomable and
scrollable planetary surface maps possess, and these NASA images can be 
distributed and used at no cost.  For studing the planets themselves, we 
recommend using these NASA image sets :

2 - High-res NASA scrool-and-zoom surface maps :

Earth at night - global with city lights.
Mercury - Caloris Basin.
Venus (Cylindrical map, Eastern half of planet.]

3 - Large high-res planetary images from NASA :

Saturn at different "tilts" in a poster.
Mars at different rotations.
Martian cliffs.

4 - movies :

Polar caps on Mars.

5 - placard - How to remember the order of the planets.

6 - Lecture on the life of Galileo.

7 - booklets :

Exploring the Moon - teacher's notes from NASA.
Build a replica of the International Space Station with paper cutouts.
The Venus Geological Mapper's Handbook.
The Space Shuttle Glider's Kit.
Solar System Lithography Kit from NASA.
Model of the Mars Pathfinder from paper cutouts.

8 - handouts and lecture notes - text and audio transcript for :

Solar System Overview.
Sun - Solar Wind.

9 - xplns user's guide for the etc ... notes and audio transcripts.
10 - placards for each audio chapter.

With this set of copyright free-NASA-GNU materials, a printer and a computer
to run xplns on, you only need to select out a schedule.

you can let the computer read the notes to the class and give them a handout 
of the text to take notes on.  use the user's guide for the notes to create 
xplns animations.

I am packaging this set as a cd-rom.

would love to add teacher's notes by teachers that use it in future releases. 
and if your students make field trips, take pictures and send them in.

i hope someone else "nominates" a package for your distribution in astronomy.
as it is, i think this is the best to be done for teachers with existing 

mike eschman, etc ...
(http://www.etc-edu.com ) Not just an afterthought ...