The Dust Mights team will be searching for Galactic sources in the Spitzer Enhanced Imaging Products catalog which have an excess amount of infrared light and whose distances are known from Gaia observations.
What was especially important to me as an educator was the way that the students planned their own schedule of listening to research presentations [at the AAS] and reviewing poster presentations. The students were very active participants in the conference and they took away an amazing amount of information and excitement. One parent told me that her normally quiet son spent the entire weekend relating stories of the experience to his family and friends.
Overall, I think one of my favorite parts of the trip was watching all of the students from around the country bond into a very productive team. They would help each other through the work we were doing to make sure everyone understood and was at the same place.
I think that the most surprising thing about it was how young everyone was! I absolutely did not expect that, maybe because the amateur community is so much older by comparison, and is mainly composed of retired people.