"Panel addressing unique challenges today of teaching Astro 101 in Community Colleges"
The panel will take a look at the teaching of Astronomy 101 in the nation’s roughly 1000 community colleges, enrolling about 5 million undergraduates a year. Estimates are that more than ⅓ of the students enrolled in Astro 101 take the class at a community college. Full-time instructors often teach 5 classes each semester, and many of those who teach astronomy also teach other subjects. Part-time (adjunct) instructors make up a large part of the instruction, especially in the evenings; they are paid low wages and rarely do they get benefits. Resources available to instructors for equipment or professional development are tiny fractions of what is provided at universities. Yet, these institutions often have dedicated teachers, who help their population of students, many from underserved groups, appreciate science for the first time in their lives. The panel will discuss the special challenges and satisfactions of teaching community-college astronomy in the pandemic era. There will be some time for discussion, and the plenary will be followed by a workshop, organized by the NASA Community College Network project where participants will have even more opportunity to be heard.