Tabitha Buehler, Assistant Professor (Lecturer) in the Physics and Astronomy Department, is developing top-notch astronomy education and outreach programs with a student group called the AstronomUrs. These students, with Buehler’s guidance, give presentations on-campus and off-campus to local schools, Boy Scouts, and other community groups. They also hold free public star parties on-campus each Wednesday evening, weather permitting.
“We estimate that about 2,000 people attended our weekly star parties last year, and the AstronomUrs presented to over 75 additional groups, reaching upwards of 10,000 people in the community last year,” says Buehler. “This success is largely due to Paul Ricketts, my associate, who gives most of the presentations and hosts the star parties.”
In 2013, Buehler received a SPIE Education Outreach Grant from the International Society of Optics and Photonics. It allowed the AstronomUrs group to develop some optics-related physics and astronomy demonstrations and activities to take to local schools and public events.
Whether in the classroom or in the field, Buehler employs a thoughtful teaching philosophy.
“I believe that students are capable of being self-motivated, independent learners, and that acquiring such skills and habits will be very valuable to them throughout their lives,” says Buehler.
She uses specific tactics to achieve her teaching objectives.
“I have ‘flipped’ most of the classes that I have taught. Taking the ‘lecture’ portion outside of the classroom allows me to use class time for application, demonstration, and further review on topics that the students choose,” says Buehler.
At the U, Buehler has taught a wide range of classes, including Observational Astronomy, The Universe, General Physics I and II, Astronomy for Teachers, and Physics for Scientists and Engineers.
In April, she received a College of Science Teaching Excellence Award. Only one such award is given in each department annually.
Buehler has published several peer-reviewed articles and is a member of the American Astronomical Society and the American Physical Society.
She also has created more than 50 videos on general physics topics and posted them on YouTube for students and the public to view. See: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY1tKqYKGOAE6kM_dsV0kaw/videos.