In this assignment, you will write an article that explains an astronomy-related topic. Another way to think of this is that you will answer an astronomy-related question for your audience. For example, you might answer a question like: "How can we tell that a moon rock is a moon rock?" or "How often do meteors strike the Earth?" These questions might have a short answer, but your explanation needs to provide more than just an answer. It should engage the audience and make the explanation memorable.
After completing this assignment, you will have gained the following skills :
- How to explain a complex scientific topic to the general public
- How to use a "hook" and a rhetorical approach to make an explanation clear and memorable
- How to research and summarize scientific facts in support of an explanation
- How to structure a story that guides your reader through an explanation
- How to cite your sources
Assignment Due Dates
This Canvas page is the overview for this assignment. You do not turn in anything on this Canvas page. Listed below are the due dates and links for this assignment.
- Nov 19: Proposal due. Turn in via Canvas.
- Nov 26: First draft due. Turn in via Canvas. Turn in on Canvas and bring three hardcopies with you to class.
- Dec 1-3: Second draft and 1:1 Conference questions due by 4:00pm the night before your conference. Turn in on Canvas and bring two hardcopies with you to the conference.
- Dec 10: Final draft due by 4:00 pm. Turn in via Canvas.
- Dec 11: Reflection on the second assignment is due by 4:00 pm. Turn in via Canvas.
You are free to choose any astronomy-related topic for this assignment. You are encouraged to choose a topic related to a lecture or assignment from ASTR 150. Listed below are some example ideas:
- How long would it take to travel to Mars?
- Is there water on Mars?
- What is the dark side of the moon? Why is it dark?
- Is the Earth flat?
- How can we tell that a moon rock is a moon rock?
- How often do meteors strike the Earth?
- How does a space ship or satellite stay in orbit?
- How much thrust is required to exit the Earth's atmosphere?
- Can light escape from black holes?
- What color is the sky on Mars?
- Why is everything "lighter" on the moon?
- How can we know the age of a rock?
- Why does the Earth have oxygen for us to breathe?
You have two choices for the audience for your explanation. Choose one:
- Members of the general public who have an interest in astronomy topics. Think of readers of Popular Science, Astronomy magazine, or the Science or Op-Ed pages of the New York Times.
- Children. Think of 10-year-olds who are curious about science.
Your persuasive science writing assignment should be about 1500 words and include the following elements:
- A descriptive title
- A compelling "hook" to engage your reader in the issue
- Appropriate context to help your reader understand the issue
- A coherent rhetorical approach that drives your explanation and makes it relatable to your audience
- A conclusion that pulls your explanation together
- A works cited list with at least four sources
Make sure that these elements are structured in a way that helps your audience follow your explanation and that you effectively use transitions to help your audience move from one element to the next.
Consider Why Is the Night Sky Dark? and Looking for Life on a Flat Earth as examples for this assignment.