Cosmology in the Classroom

The CLASS team includes instructional resource specialists and Maryland high-school physics teachers to develop cosmology and CMB-specific educational resources compatible with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which now lead the K-12 science education in Maryland and many other states. NGSS emphasizes the need for students to learn through the hands-on practice/inquiry of science and engineering, more akin to research than the traditional classroom approach. Moreover, the standards focus on recurring core ideas and cross-cutting concepts, such as The Universe and its Stars, Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation, Energy and Forces, and Optimizing the Design Solution, which naturally draw on cosmology and experimental CMB research.

Classroom Activities

We have developed and classroom-tested instructional activities intended for the high-school level. Input from teachers has also been incorporated through the annual summertime JHU Quarknet workshops. The activities come with directions for the instructor and a workbook for students. To accommodate different circumstances and approaches, the activities provide instructor guidelines for multiple levels of independence by which the class can engage the material.

  • Spectroscopy: Students learn the basics of electromagnetic spectra present in nature, including atomic line emission and thermal blackbody emission
  • Cosmic Expansion: Students use the electromagnetic line emission spectra of galaxies to estimate the rate at which the universe is expanding.
  • Cosmic Microwave Background: Students use the relationship between the temperature and frequency of thermal blackbody emission to understand the thermal emission from the Big Bang.

Email if you have questions about the modules.

Cosmology-in-the-Classroom Team

Sarah Marie Bruno: NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow (JHU Physics and Astronomy)

Tobias Marriage: Professor (JHU Physics and Astronomy)

Kevin Martz: High School Physics Teacher at Richard Montgomery High School (Montgomery County)

James Rittner: High School Physics Teacher at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (Baltimore City)

Jeremy Smith: High School Physics Teacher at Hereford High School (Baltimore County)

Marianne Vanier: Physics Instructional Resource Specialist (JHU Physics and Astronomy)

Steve Wonnell: Physics Instructional Resource Manager (JHU Physics and  Astronomy)