• 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.


  • [student:] The best part was the time spent in the room researching. I actually enjoyed listening to people talk and use mathematical/scientific terms as if they were casual parts of everyday conversation. It was really fun after a lifetime of students grumbling "I'll never need this in real life, why are we learning this?".
  • [student:] I also observed that [our astronomers] did not always know the answers..sometimes they were as lost in what the data was saying and where our research was going as the rest of us. Scientists don't always know the answers...I think the most impactful thing that I heard was "When scientists know what they're doing, they need to stop. When engineers don't know what they're doing, they need to stop."
  • 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.
  • I think my kids were surprised at how much fun [our astronomers] were. I think they had a stereotype of astronomer that definitely didn't match reality! :)
  • [student:] The importance of using significant digits in calculations was finally explained to me in a way that made it seem relevant and important.

Summer Visit - 2013 - They Might Be Giants