AE120:course description

Course Description

AE120: Aerospace Science for Educators

Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics at The University of Alabama, 205 Hardaway Hall, P.O. Box 870280, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0280. Department phone: 205-348-7300.


This course is designed to teach pre-service teachers some fundamental science concepts through the use of aerospace examples. You must be enrolled in the College of Education to take this course. Subjects covered include the stucture of the solar system, observational astronomy, weather fundamentals, spacecraft orbits, and aircraft flight. Also, students visit a local elementary school and deliver a science lesson, visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, and complete a guided design project entitled "Mission to Mars."

Course Format: combined (concurrent) lecture and lab.
Prerequisites and Corequisites: enrollment in the College of Education.
Semesters Offered: fall and spring only.
Next (or current) Offering: offered fall and spring semesters

What is the shape of the solar system? Can you look up in the sky and see the planets all in a row? Do their orbits appear as circles if you watch their motion for several weeks? This is the way textbooks illustrate the solar system, but where do those pictures and ideas come from? Can you determine, through simple observations, where to place the planets on a model of the solar system that is built on poster board? What is beyond the solar system? How big is the solar system?

How do you know when to launch a rocket to reach the moon or Mars? What is a "launch window" and how do you find it? You will design your own "Mission to Mars" in which you determine when to launch, how long to stay, and when to return. You may even be asked to pick a suitable landing site and design (sort of) your spaceship. (Don't worry! All designs are kept simple.)

Why does the weather change abruptly in the fall and spring? Where are hurricanes born and why? Why did Columbus sail so far south in order to reach the "New World?"

How does an airplane fly? Why is the wing shaped the way it is? What is a wind tunnel? You will get a chance to use a wind tunnel and visit the airport to inspect an actual aircraft.

How fast does the Space Shuttle go in order to stay in orbit around the earth? How fast does the earth move through space as it journeys around the sun?

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