Our Place In Space! (OPIS!) is a Skynet-based laboratory curriculum for undergraduates in small to very large, introductory survey courses – and works equally well online as in person. OPIS! consists of eight, and soon nine, labs in which students use the same research instrumentation as professionals to collect their own data. They then use this self-collected data (astronomical images and spectra) to reproduce some of the greatest astronomical discoveries of the past 400 years, and gain technical and research skills at the same time. Although students are not carrying out cutting-edge research, they are using cutting-edge research instrumentation, and consequently there is great overlap with the Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) pathway model. Furthermore, these labs/observing experiences are specifically designed to pair with standard introductory astronomy curricula, facilitating widespread adoption.
Astrophotography of the Multi-Wavelength Universe (MWU!) will be for students who have already completed OPIS!, and will be able to provide this smaller group of students more telescope time per student, making possible color- and radio mapping-, inquiry-based explorations. MWU! will consist of three optical, three radio, and two capstone observing experiences that integrate optical and radio, on the subjects of stars, galaxies, and light-producing mechanisms. Astrophotography will serve as this curriculum’s “hook”.