• IPAC

Summer Visit - 2013 - They Might Be Giants

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 "They Might Be Giants" team came to visit in August 2013. The core team educators attended, plus 6 students.


  • But for me as a teacher, I am going to use this data base and some of what we did to do a better job of teaching stellar evolution ... especially as it relates to hydrogen core, hydrogen shell, and helium core burners. We will try to do some similar things in class that we did this summer ... how to use a light curve, how to use a periodogram to find periods, etc. This will help bring some practicality to astronomical theory.
  • [student:] The best thing about the trip was being able to learn from and work along side real astronomers.
  • [student:] I didn't know that there was going to be so much math in astronomy!
  • [student:] The most surprising thing was that I gained a renewed interest in space-stuff!
  • [student:] During my NITARP experience, I really saw science come to life. As a student, I was always being told to do all of these math problems and learn how to do all of this stuff that seemed so irrelevant to me.. but when I came here and worked with [..] two AMAZING astronomers, they helped me see what all of that stuff is really for. [..] Finally all of those graphs I learned about years ago in math class were put to good use. Without histograms and scatter plots, our research could not have been as successful. I will also never forget the moment that Steve told us we had to calculate the mass of all of these stars that we were looking at..we could not just Google the answer like I am so used to doing...we had to actually sit down and calculate the masses. Then he taught us about Kepler's laws and how to use Kepler's third law to use the star's surface gravity and radius to calculate its mass. It looked like something my physics teacher would have given me to solve earlier in the year, but instead of being on a homework assignment, it was actually relevant and necessary. I guess taking what I've learned as a student in the classroom (even though it all seems kind of tedious and unnecessary to learn sometimes) and applying it in the real world--not as a school project, but to be doing real research--is the best thing about the trip.

Summer Visit - 2013 - They Might Be Giants