I have designed a STEM based lesson module designed to integrate these two fields into one project that can be adapted for students of all age groups as well as the general public. The primary teaching point for the students to consider and learn during this lesson is “How does scientific application influence engineering design, and vice versa?” Three branches of STEM fields are incorporated into this single lesson plan: physics, electrical engineering, and astronomy. The module surrounds the hands-on activity of having students construct their own AM radio receiver. A.M. radios are actually simple devices that can be stripped down to a handful of components to make the circuit easy to understand and put together. The participants can hook up their receiver to a shared antenna and can tune their radio to listen to a broadcast signal. The lecture portion of the module focuses on both the physical nature of light and electrical waves, circuit design, practical applications to AM radio broadcasting, and research applications of radio telescopes. The effectiveness of the lesson was evaluated with the use of a Fryer chart. The initial results were presented at the 225th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society. You can see the abstract here.
The lesson plans that I developed include: a 6 page teacher guide explaining the theory behind A.M. radio transmission and research highlights of radio astronomy, a 14 page lesson plan outline, a single page of instructions to the students, a copy of an evaluation tool, and a 3 page report detailing how the module meets 6th grade Arizona STEM Immersion criteria. I was the recipient of the 2016 SESE Pitching Competition second place graduate student award. I earned a $500 for giving a 3 minute 'pitch' for the materials to put together 30 kits to teach the A. M. radio receiver modules. These kits will become a lendable set that teachers in the Phoenix area can check out to teach the lesson to their students. I have also begun collaborating with the Square Kilometer Array outreach group at the Jodrell Bank Discovery Center in the UK.
I have been involved with several other outreach initiatives. I have been an American Astronomical Society Astro-Ambassador since 2015. The Astro-Ambassador program is designed to teach early career scientists effective communication and presentation skills. In addition to the classroom lessons mentioned above, I have adapted the A.M. radio module to be given at the School of Earth and Space Exploration and ASU-wide public outreach events. I have also spoken at many school groups in Arizona and Colorado about being a women in a STEM field, and about being a scientist and engineer in general. As an undergraduate, I helped develop a planetarium show about cosmology. The show described both how the universe has evolved since the Big Bang, and how we scientists figured that information out. I was also an educator for the Journey Through the Universe program. JTTU brings astronomers from across the country together to visit hundreds of classrooms in an underserved community to get students interested in space.