• IPAC

Summer Visit - 2018 - Cosmic DIRt

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 Cosmic dIRt team came to visit in June 2018. The core team educators attended, plus 10 students.


  • There are many qualities that are important to an astronomer, but two of them are persistence and diligence. Sometimes, the apparent path to solving a problem turns out to lead somewhere else (or not lead anywhere at all). The astronomer has to be aware of this and know when to change course and try another approach—sometimes, this has to be done over and over again before the research problem starts to show results.
  • [...] the community of teachers has been an unexpected and positive outcome of this program. I text the other physics teachers all the time to be like "hey, how do you teach this?" and then we chat about it. We also chat about our lives and things non NITARP/ teaching. Seeing these teachers in person was like a visit with my favorite science pen pals who live parallel lives in other states.
  • For teachers it can be hard to let yourself not know things in front of the kids but it is even harder to let yourself be wrong; accept that this is part of the experience.
  • Our group is absolutely changed [by the summer visit], especially in terms of engagement from the kids who are now absolutely psyched and won’t stop texting me about wanting to do more research.
  • Watching my own [students] struggle with material and rise to the occasion made me proud of them and reinforced why I do this job in the first place.

Summer Visit - 2018 - Cosmic DIRt