• IPAC

Summer Visit - 2016 - HIPS AGN

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 HIPS AGN team came to visit in June 2016. The core team educators attended, plus 8 students.


  • [student:] This is the first time where I was able to be a part of a team where everyone had the same aspirations and motivations. There was no one who thought of themselves as the leader. Everyone looked at each other as equals and helped each other when it was needed.
  • Truly, the value of this program is in the students, teachers and scientists working together as multi-level, multi-generational colleagues at Caltech. The content authority of a teacher is often strong, but the content authority of scientists is on a whole other level! And making a personal connection with a scientist raises the value of the student experience yet another magnitude.
  • I wasn’t expecting as many “well, let’s try this” side roads. I thought the process would be more linear, but this felt more authentic somehow. You don’t know the answer, and you don’t have a clear roadmap for finding the answer, but you have some background and can use that to start reaching towards an answer.
  • Real astronomy is done in data analysis. This is not what the public sees or imagines. I think that this is one of the great values of the program, particularly for students, but for teachers as well. Participating in research projects is always eye-opening and exciting, but it involves a great deal of hard work and creativity. This last aspect, creativity, is an area where scientists typically receive little credit, but it is where they truly excel. Science, including astronomy, seems like a stodgy and non-creative endeavor on the outside, particularly with the focus on STEM as separate from the arts, which are considered creative.
  • [student:] You can’t be afraid to mess up- after all, with most research, you’re essentially paving your own new path, and that in itself is pretty amazing. I hadn’t realized how much of a collaborative effort research could really be.

Summer Visit - 2016 - HIPS AGN