• IPAC

Summer Visit - 2013 - CM4Sy

The summer visit to Caltech is 3-4 days long and is the only time during the year of work when all the participants on the team come together in person to work intensively on the data. Generally, each educator may bring up to two students to the summer visit that are paid for by NITARP, and they may raise funds to bring two more. The teams work at Caltech; the summer visit typically includes a half-day tour of JPL, which is a favorite site for group photos. Reload to see a different set of quotes.

The CM4Sy team came to visit in July 2013. The core team educators attended, plus 11 students.


  • [The most surprising thing was that] Some hypotheses do not succeed, even with the best scientific ‘assumptions’ and backgrounds…. I know – it’s not all that surprising really, but it was interesting. I’ve seen this many times before, but it always brings me to my favorite place when “doing” science: now what?
  • [The best thing was] Working with everyone. It was a great experience to work with the whole team from around the country in conjunction with the astronomer. The team working, collaboration and excitement was contagious and motivating. We had such an amazing experience working together. This has truly been on of the most amazing trips simply because we had an amazing group of students, teachers and astronomer to work with.
  • I discovered that astronomers are just regular people that don’t know everything. They make mistakes just like the rest of us. They are just passionate about what they do and are rewarded for that passion with admiration (but not necessarily money) from the general public. They have cool jobs in awesome places, but most do not get rich from their pursuit of knowledge. Access to data and astronomical images is easy. It is coming up with great questions that makes an astronomer great.
  • [Before this,] I had two visions of astronomy: telescopes and massive equations/data tables. This trip really emphasized that its not just telescopes and equations, but tangible data and analytical skills. It was really rewarding for my high school students and I to analyze this real data. It was also very interesting to learn that the data is public and anyone can use the data to learn science.
  • [student:] It seems that many people believe that astronomers are either extremely geeky people who live with their noses buried deep in their computers and whiteboards or people who chart stars by looking through telescopes all night. In reality, they are people who are very smart, love their jobs, and are extremely excited to share their work with others. I did expect to be working with computers (particularly Excel), but I was grateful for the history of our project and the ability to learn more about our project before diving straight into the more complicated aspects. For example, plotting all the data we were given was much harder and took longer than I had formerly expected.

Summer Visit - 2013 - CM4Sy