Video Killed the Writing Assignment

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Nicolle Zellner


Astronomy; Class Activity; Video; Undergraduate; Non-Science Major


An introductory Astronomy survey course is often taken to satisfy a college graduation requirement for non-science majors at colleges around the United States. In this course, material that can be broadly categorized into topics related to “the sky”, “the Solar System”, “the Galaxy”, and “cosmology” is discussed. Even with the wide variety of topics in these categories, though, students may not be 100% interested in the course content, and it is almost certain that a specific topic about which a student wishes to learn is not covered. To at least partly address these issues, to appeal to all of the students in this class, and to allow students to explore topics of their choice, a video project has been assigned to students at Albion College as a class activity. In this assignment, students are asked to create a video of a famous (or not) astronomer, astronomical object or discovery, or telescope observatory to present to the class. Students work in pairs to create a video that is original and imaginative and includes accurate scientific content. For this project, then, students use a familiar technology and exercise their creativity while learning a little (or a lot of) science along the way. Herein data on types and topics of videos, examples of videos, assignment requirements and grading rubrics, lessons learned, and student comments will be discussed and shared.


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