Since its inception, Project CLEA's goal is to create a body of astronomy laboratory exercises and a cadre of faculty that will make it possible for college students to experience modern techniques in observational astronomy. To increase accessibility, the Project CLEA staff are moving a number of CLEA's more popular laboratories to a web-based platform.

Project Report

This award supported the work of PROJECT CLEA (Contemporary Laboratory Experiences in Astronomy), which has been developing and disseminating computer-based modules for astronomy education since 1992. The CLEA modules enable students to experience realistic simulations of astrophysical research techniques using real digital data. The latest CLEA software enables students to operate simulations of large optical telescopes, radio dishes, infrared telescopes and x-ray satellite observatories. The instrumentation operates in a realistic mode, and students can analyze the data they receive with a variety of computer-based tools. CLEA also provides suggested student activity sheets and technical documentation for instructors who want to develop their own exercises. While targeted at the introductory college level classes, CLEA software is adaptable through a wide variety of instructor-controlled settings. Because of this flexibility it is used widely for classes from the Elementary to the advanced undergraduate level. CLEA has also provided training sessions at national astronomy and teachers' meetings, as well as summer workshops on the Gettysburg College campus. The software, now consisting of 16 modules, is distributed free on the web and via CD-rom upon request. We maintain an active website and facebook page. ( CLEA software is used in all states and almost 100 countries worldwide; documentation is available in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Dutch, and a variety of other languages. During the tenure of this award, a continuation based on previous NSF supported work, CLEA continued to develop new modules--the latest, still in progress, on searching for planets beyond the solar system. We also devoted considerable time to maintaining our website and dealing with changes in the Windows operating system, which affected some of our installations. We spent time investigating the possibility of developing server-client based versions of the CLEA software, though we did not find an effective way of accomplishing this with the current structure of our programs. We continued to distribute software on demand and augmented our website to make it possible for users to download all of the large CLEA databases directly from our website, so that CD distribution by mail is no longer necessary. We actively promoted the use of our new all-purpose Virtual Educational Observatory (VIREO) software, which enables users to conduct most of the older CLEA labs, and provides an environment for developing many new discovery based exercises.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Program Officer
Duncan E. McBride
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Gettysburg College
United States
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