• 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.


  • 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.
  • I was most surprised at how well my students took to the work. Prior to the trip, they worked to understand the project proposal and researched the instruments, but they seemed a bit detached from it at home. Once here, though, they engaged much more intensely, asked more questions, and really wanted to do a great job. Without prompting they all took out there computers and continued making graphs with our data set at the airport while waiting for our flight home.
  • I was least surprised to see how well the students got along with each other. I was fully expecting them to enjoy meeting other students similarly afflicted with a love for science. In small schools it can be difficult for strong minds to stretch their wings without being “clipped” by the rest of the student body. Programs like this allow students to build support networks that encourage them to more vigorously pursue their interests.
  • [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?
  • [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.

Summer Visit - 2013 - CM4Sy