Adaptive Optics: I Can See Clearly Now
A combination of reflective writing, class discussion, video, lecture and group work lead students to identify the problem atmospheric distortion poses in astronomy and brainstorm solutions before the idea of adaptive optics is presented. Students then research the technique on their own. A few iterations of teacher support and further investigation result in a more detailed understanding, including why lasers are an essential component to the work. Portions of the work are framed in terms of basic engineering skills. There is a preassessment to be done by students and reviewed by students before the lesson starts. That, exploratory writing, group work and a concluding postassessment are available as tools for evaluating student progress. Students learn about the variety of large telescopes on Earth and in orbit, to shift between wave and particle descriptions of light, to predict direction of light refraction, and to consider the role of technological advances on astronomical progress.