Best Practice High School

Conceptual Physics Unit #5


Students at Best Practice High School have access to a state of the art computer lab, the automated telescopes at Berkeley Labs, image processing software, telecommunications via the internet (Hou. Homepage), textbook and journals. 

Through the Hands-On Universe, students become explorers, some working along with scientists in the field -- explorers of how we came into existence, of the fate of the Universe. Already, we have had a students learn how to use the software to search for light of a supernova. Already, we have seen students discovering the scientist within themselves by measuring and manipulating their images. Already we are taking the steps to create a community of teachers, students, and scientists, working together to undertake important personal explorations with this project.

At the end of the second semester, we have seen two students voluntarily choose image processing as a means to create a science fair project that prepared and challenged them, to discover new knowledge. Jackie King, a sophomore at Best Practice High School, used her skills acquired over the summer school session, to field test her ability to search for supernova in remote galaxies. Jason Lawrence, a freshman student at B.P.H.S. used image processing skills aquired last fall, to observe the changes in luminosity on the surface of the moon, using ccd images taken with the automated telescope at Berkeley Labs. I believe that our students have taken crucial steps in learning to measure the stars, the planets, the galaxies, in many ways students have their curiosity. Students have started to ask questions to which there are no answers and started to see the beauty in their ccd images and in the origin of all things.

HOU has been developed and is operated by staff at Lawrence Berkeley and Space Science Laboratories at the University of California at Berkeley, CA. The project has been possible because of generous support from the National Science Foundation (grant # ESI-9252915) and the US Department of Energy. 

The HOU curriculum was developed by TERC with contributions from the Berkeley staff and pilot teachers. TERC is a nonprofit company working to improve mathematics and science education, The Adler Planetarium, with the tremendous effort of Vivian Hoette, has been instrumental in developing the HOU teacher training program. In the most recent 40 years of our Universe, we have witnessed compelling growth in our understanding of the cosmos. In particular, we have made many exciting discoveries and measurements that have led us to know how galaxies, stars, and people evolved from the Big Bang. 

Much as the women and men of the first half of the century was the generation that unlocked the secrets of atoms, matter, and the fundamental methods and laws of physics, we are using the knowledge of physics to build a deep understanding of the Universe, their is a natural progression from the theoretical laws of physics and their applications in astronomy. Because of this dual role we now have a model of the first few moments of the Universe and the consequent production of the fuel for stars -- Hydrogen and Helium. Science has made significant progress in understanding how stars form. We have started to understand supernovae -- the explosive formation of probably most of the heavier chemical elements 


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Program Contact: Arthur Griffin
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Last Update: August 24, 2001