Nebraska Physics and Astronomy Summit

October 7, 2023

This conference is dedicated to providing a variety of professional development opportunities in astronomy and physics education for college, high school, and middle school teachers across the state of Nebraska. A theme of this event is the use of instructional technology to improve our teaching of astronomy and physics. The conference begins with a keynote, an exhibition hall, and your choice of four breakout sessions. After lunch, the second keynote and longer workshop sessions close out the day.


Upon the first time visiting the registration portal, you will be asked to create an account and verify your email address. After completing these two steps, you can proceed to Upcoming Events and click on the Physics and Astronomy Summit 2023 registration.

Plenary Speakers

dan reichart

Dan Reichart, Ph.D.

Dr. Dan Reichart joined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2002, where he is now a Professor of Physics and Astronomy and has been building “Skynet”. Skynet is an ever-growing collection of fully automated, or robotic, professional-quality telescopes under the control of software developed by Reichart’s team. Currently, Skynet spans four continents and five countries, and consists of nearly twenty optical telescopes, with mirrors ranging in size from 14 inches to 1 meter in diameter, as well as a 20-meter diameter radio telescope. To date, Dr. Reichart has published over 160 journal articles, including five in Nature and Science magazines, and has raised over $12 million for his research.

david hardwood

David Harwood, Ph.D.

Dr. David Harwood, Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, will discuss "Repurposing Nebraska’s Cold War Infrastructure for Warm War Climate Science." Obtaining past records of Earth’s climate history of temperature and ice sheet changes is vital to our ability to improve numerical models to predict the rate and scale of future changes as our world warms. Polar Regions preserve archives of past climate history within and beneath ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica that have been accessed by UNL drillers, engineers, and scientists since the 1970s via ice coring, hot water drilling, and sediment drilling. An ambitious project is developing as part of UNL’s Grand Challenges - the Ice Coring & Education (ICE) Silo – to repurpose an abandoned Atlas-F missile silo in the Lincoln area into an ice drill testing and design center where new tools and instruments can be tested before deployment to remote field sites. Science and Technology Literacy and Climate Resilience will be a parallel focus of the ICE Silo through innovative public education and outreach. This project’s broad scope will enhance education in Nebraska and provide a one-of-a-kind research and testing facility for US and international polar scientists and engineers.

Ruckman Public Lecture 2023

The Stonehenge Observatory

Dr. Dan Reichart, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

7:30 pm

Using a three-dimensional computer recreation of Stonehenge, we will explore the site's astronomical properties, primarily by inserting ourselves into the simulation and watching solar and lunar alignments in real time, as they occurred thousands of years ago. The program recreates all three major phases of Stonehenge's construction based on archaeological records, and the sun and moon simulations take into account atmospheric refraction, the gradually changing tilt of Earth's axis, and the sun's gravitational tug on the moon to ensure the utmost in accuracy.


Schedule | OCT 7, 2023

8:30 a.m.

Registration Opens

Jorgensen Hall

9:00 a.m.

Opening Welcome

Katherine Ankerson, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Keynote | Our Place In Space!: Skynet-based Labs for Undergraduate Students”

Daniel Reichart, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Jorgensen Hall 110

10:00 am

Continental Breakfast, Hallway Booths, Poster Session, & Socializing

Cengage Publishing
Mackenzie Lahmann

Nano Demos
Steve Wignall
Jody Sangster

Eclipse Tools
Evan Rich
Shams Hassiki
Alex Michalak

Morrill Hall
Rachel Scheet

Physics Demos
Larry Browning

Cultivate ACCESS

NASA Nebraska Space Grant
Tammy Blobaum

Tom Brestel

Fun-sized Physics
Xiaoshan Xu

AAPT Physics Photo Contest
Todd Leif

Teaching Physics Concepts
Rebecca Udby

Pawan Giri
Robert Tabb

Smartphone Sims
Deepika Menon
Kevin Lee

Formative Assessment
Sukaina Al-Hamedi

Branched Oak Observatory
Michael Sibbernsen

UNL Physics

11:00 am

Breakout Sessions

11:00 am

Teaching Star Motions with Simulations

Kent Reinhard

Neutrino Telescopes

Robert Tabb, Pawan Giri

Modeling Instruction: A Physics Overview

Todd Leif

Cheap Physics Demos

Adam Davis

11:30 am

Teaching Star Motions with the Planetarium

Todd Young

Teaching Plate Tectonics

Mindi Searls

The Psychology of Making Predictions

Manda Williamson

12:00 pm

Spectroscopic Binaries

Kevin Lee and Evan Rich

Quantum Kits

Steve Wignall and Jody Sangster

Acceleration of an Atwood Rocket

Tom Brestel

Fun-sized Physics

Xiaoshan Xu and Shireen Adenwalla

12:30 pm

Labeling Tasks in HTML5

Chris Siedell and Clara Carper

Physics for Life Sciences

Keith Foreman

Building Solar Telescopes?

Larry Browning

1:00 pm


Cather Dining Complex - Lark Room

2:00 pm

Keynote | Repurposing Nebraska’s Cold War Infrastructure for Warm War Climate Science

David Harwood, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Jorgensen Hall 110

3:00 pm

Longer Breakout Sessions

Modeling Instruction: An Example from Astronomy

Ethan Van Winkle and Emma Schneider

Putting Skynet to Work for You!

Daniel Reichart

Augmented Reality?

Herman Batelaan and Kees Uiterwaal

4:30 pm

Evaluations, Door Prize Raffle, Closing

Jorgensen Hall 110


Center for Science, Mathematics, and Computer Education

Department of Physics and Astronomy

NASA Nebraska Space Grant

N-AAPT, Physics Education