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PHYS2082 - Space Science and Stellar Astrophysics

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Richards Building 5, Room 213

Saint Lucia, QLD 4067

Australia

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This course covers the physical processes responsible for the formation and evolution of the solar systems and stars in our Galaxy. A major theme of the course is research-style projects where students will investigate a distant solar system. This course focuses on developing a quantitative understanding of the physical processes involved and is aimed at students in Science and Engineering. It is an elective in both the Physics Major and some Engineering streams. The delivery consists of two interactive lectures each week, for which the students prepare with pre-reading before they complete a short-answer quiz on Blackboard. The two-hour contact session each week is mostly used for group work on the projects, as well as some exam style questions followed by group discussions.

Michael is a Professor of Astrophysics in the School of Mathematics and Physics, and Deputy Associate Dean (Academic) in the Faculty of Science.

Professor Drinkwater's astrophysics research concerns the formation of galaxies. He focuses on the competing processes in galaxy groups where most galaxies are growing over time as they merge with one another, but the smaller galaxies can get ripped apart by the gravity of their larger neighbours. This work led to his discovery of an entirely new type of galaxy. He has been a chief investigator on 20 competitive astrophysics research, as well as chairing national committees allocating time on our national telescopes.

Michael is also active in education innovation and research. He has won institutional and national awards for his use of role-play exercises in university physics teaching. His education research focuses on the systems that best support active learning in the classroom and the challenges of measuring teaching quality. As part of his increasing leadership role, he recently chaired an institution-wide project to develop sound pedagogical guidelines for the design and evaluation of new teaching spaces; this work has directly influenced the direction of capital projects at UQ worth several million dollars.

My teaching approach reflects my research background: I’m very comfortable dealing with large amounts of data… such as finding ways to process hundreds of student responses in real time. So that I can prepare for lectures based on the quiz answers in real time.

Walking into a lecture when the students have already prepared and told you what they find difficult in their own words is amazing. The class time becomes a conversation with the students setting the agenda. This is way more fun than conventional lecturing and I know I'm actually discussing something useful for the students. Our tests in another course (PHYS1001, Mechanics and Thermal Physics I) show that students learn more than twice as much with this approach than with conventional teaching: see our paper at http://smp.uq.edu.au/node/2049

If you come to a class, please greet me at the start and I can lend you a clicker. Please sit with the students and feel welcome to join them in the discussions.

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Location

Richards Building 5, Room 213

Saint Lucia, QLD 4067

Australia

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