I teach in a gifted and talented school in New York City. I have a research class that meets for one period (45 min long) every day of the week. In this research class students are taught elementary Numerical Analysis and Computer Programming using IDL as the computer language. From this class I have selected 9 students to work with Dr. Varoujan Gorjian of the Spitzer Science Center on the research project titled "Reverberation Mapping of NGC 4051". The 9 students are Mr. John Tkaczuk, Mr. Redwan Saleh (both traveling with me this August to SSC), Ms. Paula Santos-Shevett, Ms. Alana Weissman, Mr. Thomas Stolarski, Mr. Tomascz Sadowski, Ms. Carrie Huang, Ms. Tiffany Lugo, Mr. Zhao Yu. The first two are juniors (Mr. Tkaczuk has completed AB Calculus) and the remaining students are sophomores for the academic year 2007-08.The student contributions to the Spitzer Project are as follows:
- Ms. Carrie Huang gave a five minute presentation to the Upper School Assembly on the Spitzer telescope, and Infra-red Astronomy.
- Mr. John Tkaczuk, Mr. Redwan Saleh, Ms. Paula Santos-Shevett, Ms. Alana Weissman, Mr. Thomas Stolarski, Mr. Tomascz Sadowski observed NGC 4051 on the New Mexico Skies Observatory telescope. Each student individually made observations on different dates. Each observation consisted of taking five images of NGC 4051 through the blue, visible, and red filters.
- Mr. John Tkaczuk and Mr. Redwan Saleh installed Dr. Gorjian's photometry tool, APT, into our school computers. They are currently using this tool to calculate the ratio of the flux of active nuclei to the background stars. They will then plot this ratio versus time.
- I have written a lesson plan on Correlation Functions that I plan to use in my research class this fall.
In my opinion there are three advantages of the Spitzer Project:
- Joy and thrill of Discovery: The Spitzer telescope is taking measurements of NGC 4051 at 3.8 and 5.8 microns. Such measurements have never been taken before and may lead to an estimate of the lower bound on the thickness of the dust torus. To be the first group to perform such calculations is an experience of a lifetime.
- Numerical Analysis using Correlation Functions: Students will be taught the use of Correlation functions to calculate time lag. Correlation functions is a very important research tool that students may encounter again if they decide to pursue graduate work in physics, chemistry or engineering.
- Computer Programming: Students will calculate brightness writing simple computer programs. Education research has shown that computer programming facilitates logical thinking.
Future Plans: I will give a presentation on my Spitzer work and Infra-Red Astronomy at this meeting: NSTA Regional Meeting, Charlotte, NC, October 30-Nov 1