While teaching his first-ever introductory college astronomy course, I heard a graduate student make the comment that compared to other areas of astronomy, studying the solar system is just “stamp collecting.” Coverage of the solar system in an introductory college astronomy course certainly could consist mostly of showing images and reporting facts, but by using observations that can be made from images and also data and other known facts about the objects, instruction on solar system topics can be more conceptual, involving just as much inquiry and discovery as any area of astronomy or physics.

1.
Lord Kelvin’s comment (paraphrased and used also by Ernest Rutherford) purportedly, but there are questions about its origins: “
In Science there is only Physics; the rest is stamp collecting
,” https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Ernest_Rutherford.
2.
Lecture-Tutorials are collaborative learning activities that are designed for students to work with and discover concepts for themselves rather than being lectured to about them. They consist of a series of short questions that build on one another. See
E.
Prather
,
T.
Slater
,
J.
Bailey
,
L.
Jones
, and
J.
Dostal
, “
Research on a Lecture-Tutorial approach to teaching introductory astronomy for non–science majors
,”
Astron. Educ. Rev.
3
(
2
), (
2005
) and
E.
Prather
and
G.
Brissenden
, “
Lecture-Tutorials: A how-to guide
,”
NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Center for Astronomy Education
(
2009
), http://astronomy101.jpl.nasa.gov/teachingstrategies/teachingdetails/?StrategyID=9.
3.
M. C.
LoPresto
and
S. R.
Murrell
, “
A comparative planetology activity
,”
Phys. Teach.
48
,
296
299
(
May
2010
).
4.
R.
Hake
, “
Interactive-engagement versus traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses
,”
Am. J. Phys.
66
,
64
74
(
Jan.
1998
) defines normalized gains, g = (post-test % — pretest %)/(100% — pretest%), unsatisfactory normalized gains as g < 0.3, satisfactory gains as 0.3 < g < 0.7, and excellent as g > 0.7.
5.
Readers may access Appendixes I and II at TPT Online [supplementary material] under the References tab, http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.4978727 .
6.
M. C.
LoPresto
, “
Comparing a lecture to a tutorial
,”
Phys. Educ.
45
(
2
),
196
201
(
March/April
2010
) describes how a Lecture-Tutorial is developed and presents data showing that students taught a topic using one experience greater learning gains than students taught by lecture.
7.
M. C.
LoPresto
and
S. R.
Murrell
, “
An Astronomical Misconceptions Survey
,”
J. Coll. Sci. Teach.
40
(
5
),
38
46
(
May
2011
) presents data that show there is a student misconception that the asteroid belt is crowded.
8.
M. C.
LoPresto
, “
Using visual assessments and tutorials to teach solar system concepts in introductory astronomy
,”
Astron. Educ. Rev.
9
(
1
) (
2010
)
introduces this pedagogy and presents data showing that students taught topics using visual assessments and tutorials experience greater learning gains than students taught by lecture and also data that show there is student confusion between comets and meteors
.
9.
M. C.
LoPresto
, “
AstroNotes: Defining solar system objects
,”
Phys. Teach.
54
,
312
313
(
May
2016
) presents data showing that there is student confusion between asteroids, comets, and meteors.
10.
Solar System Concept Inventory (SSCI) & Solar System Lecture-Tutorials Project, NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
, http://astronomy101.jpl.nasa.gov/cats/projects/.
11.
M. C.
LoPresto
and
T. F
Slater
, “
A new comparison of active learning strategies to traditional lectures for teaching college astronomy
J. Astron. Earth Sci. Educ.
3
(
1
), (
June
2016
).
12.
E.
Prather
,
T.
Slater
,
J.
Adams
, and
Gina
Brissenden
,
Lecture-Tutorials for Introductory Astronomy
, 3rd ed. (
Pearson
,
San Francisco, CA
,
2012
).
13.
S. J.
Slater
,
T. F.
Slater
, and
D. J.
Lyons
,
Engaging in Astronomical Inquiry
(
W. H. Freeman
,
New York
,
2010
).
14.
S.
Palen
and
A. M.
Larson
,
Learning Astronomy by Doing–Collaborative Lecture Activities
(
W. W. Norton & Co.
,
New York
,
2015
).

Supplementary Material

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