• IPAC

Summer Visit - 2017 - CephC:LABS

The summer visit to Caltech is 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 CephC-LABS team came to visit in June 2017. The core team educators attended, plus 5 students.


  • [student:] I don't think "real astronomy" can be simply classified. I now know that astronomy covers an incredibly wide field of research, from finding active galactic nuclei to finding baby stars to sorting out the mysteries of the universe. "Real astronomy" can't be set in a box. I was semi-surprised that scientific research was so circular. In every science class I have been given a set of instructions and told to follow them. There were no instructions here, and it's so imperative to teach others that.
  • [student:] The most important thing I learned was how to accept that I didn't, and wouldn't, understand exactly what I was doing. This was an entirely new experience for me, as I have always been able to grasp some part of a concept I was learning. This was quickly undermined, as I had no idea what I was doing! One of the most interesting things I saw was the complexity of the data we were working with. I LOVED getting to see how the process of genuine science went!
  • I think it was really important for us to spend a substantial amount of time together, get to know one another, struggle with concepts together, and work toward a common goal. Online hangouts are a decent (and cheaper $ !) substitute, but can’t replace face to face interaction and problem solving. Also, physically being at a college campus or at JPL is a powerful experience for our students. I expected our group to feel more cohesive after the trip and I definitely think we left California as a stronger team.
  • No, [this work] could not have been done online and had the same effect. Online has too many limitations. The amount of information was vast. Although, after the visit, the online will take on a new dimension. The trip activated us all in ways, (although we will be negotiating the startup of school for a few weeks), that if we can be patient, should result in higher motivation levels and a deeper sense of commitment by all involved. It was also good to learn the personalities of the students. We learned a lot in a short amount of time, and the students would never had been up to speed / gaps in knowledge, without the face-to-face time.
  • [student:] I don’t think I could handle the work if it was done online. I think it was almost crucia, at least for me, to all be in the same room as we learned what we were doing and tried it for the first time.

Summer Visit - 2017 - CephC:LABS