Posted by: Tom Ross | June 7, 2013

Authentic Astronomical Research Experience for Teachers & Students

[Click on the title above to view on the CTE Central Blog website.]


The National Aerodynamics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) are recruiting the next cohort for the NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program (NITARP).


NITARP partners small groups of educators with a mentor professional astronomer for an original research project and a year-long professional development experience that can be incorporated within the classroom to involve their students. The purpose of this program is to provide educators and students with an authentic research experience in astronomy.


The research is original and uses real astronomical data, not prefabricated or previously done research.

Each group of teachers, students, and a professional astronomer writes up the results of their research and presents it at the American Astronomical Society meeting (the professional organization for U.S. astronomers) – each team also presents the educational findings of their experience in the program.

And this program is not over in days or weeks; it runs for 13 months. And it involves students from the first day.

The main program components involve multiple trips (for which NITARP pays) and a commitment from the teachers to educate others about their experiences, both of which are conducted over a minimum of 18 months to 2 years. The specific program components are: 1. Attending a NITARP workshop at an American Astronomical Society (AAS) winter conference near Washington DC to meet the science mentor, learn about the research project, and learn about scientific meetings. 2. working long distance on the research project. 3. Meeting for 3 – 4 days in Pasadena, CA, to work on the data for the project. 4. Attending the subsequent AAS winter meeting and presenting the results. 5. Serving as NITARP ambassadors by giving 12 hours of professional workshops. 6. Serving as mentor teachers.

There’s a CoolWiki link for more information, and the posters on the NITARP site are fascinating as well.

One teacher who participated in the program in a previous year said, “”My NITARP experience has made me rethink my entire approach to science education.”

The 2014 NITARP application is now available on their site. Applications are due by 3pm Pacific Time, September 23, 2013.

For more information contact NITARP at


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