Published: June 15, 2008
Oil City students competed for the opportunity to join the OCHS Spitzer Research Team and for the opportunity to attend the work session at the SSC in June. Four students were selected including Jennifer Butchart, Shana Kennedy, Alexis McCool, and Rachele Siegel. Additional funds to help send students to the SSC were secured from a grant through Clarion University of PA. The four students selected complete 20+ hours of Spitzer/infrared astronomy training to prepare for SSC visit.
Oil City student, Matt Walentosky, with his Spitzer Research project on WZ Sge, took second place in the Physics and Astronomy Division at the INTEL Science and Engineering Fair in Atlanta Georgia. He also received the Priscilla and Bart Bok second place award from the American Astronomical Society and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. He won a total of $4,000 in cash prizes at the competition. (There was an article in The Derrick Newspaper.)
The Oil City Spitzer Team attended the SSC work session for the Lynds Cloud research project. Quotes from students - Rachele Siegel, "Though the work was oftentimes intense and required a lot of patience, the "A-ha!" moments made the whole experience worthwhile. Essentially, Pasadena was enlightening both scientifically as well as culturally." Jennifer Butchart, "Being able to participate in this type of project is outstanding. I know I would never have had this opportunity anywhere else. Now I have a pretty good idea at what I want to to with my life, all thanks to Mr. Spuck and the Spitzer Science Center." Shana Kennedy, "At first I wasn't sure if I could handle a project like this, but I'm so glad I decided to join the team. It has certainly been challenging, but the knowledge and experience I've gained, and the opportunity to work with actual astronomers made it completely worth it." Alexis McCool, "This was one of the best experiences I have ever gotten the chance to be a part of. I not only got to work with some of the best and the brightest, but I was also given the opportunity to learn and do work that was incredibly challenging as well as interesting. I will never forget it."
Mr. Spuck's student, Rachele Siegel, provided the following summary of her experience at the SSC in June: Who knew that with only five days, a small room in the California Institute of Technology, and a dozen Mac computers so many discoveries could take place? Certainly not I, but as they say, seeing is believing. Eighteen of us gathered in Pasadena with one common thread: the eagerness to learn more. With the help of Dr. Luisa Rebull and her colleagues, teachers and students alike got the opportunity to do just that. Prior to arriving in California, I acquired a small amount of knowledge about Spitzer and the various computer programs used. Our group in particular worked with MaxIm DL, Leopard, Mopex, and analyzed several articles from The Astrophysical Journal. We were also very familiar with the Wiki however, nothing could prepare us for the amount of patience and attention to detail we needed. Amazingly, after only a day of lectures and a brief introduction on generating SEDs, I was well on my way to a broader understanding of the Lynds 425 and 981. Within two days, we had chosen an unidentified object, completed a literary search, and used templates to calculate magnitudes at different wavelengths. The encouragement and enthusiasm of the seven teachers, professors, and mentors made the environment relaxing. Not only did we as students discover how to use more computer programs (APT) and spreadsheets, we were forced out of the comfort of our own groups and interacted with kids from across the country. Together we generated a SED with little assistance from adults. We number-crunched and equation processed for nearly an hour and finally our worked paid off. Those were the real "A-ha!" moments. It was a great experience working with the other students because they had fresh approaches and ideas on making spreadsheets, pin-pointing other unidentified objects, and conceptualizing T-Tauri stars. As students, we discovered that we were just as capable of doing the same work that our teachers did and that alone is empowering. At the Spitzer Science Center there was an abundance of realization. We nearly classified an object in Lynds 425 as a Class I T-Tauri. I now encompass a smorgasbord of knowledge of the many computer programs. We noted the amount of patience it takes to make a mosaic and to also generate a SED. We learned how to compare and contrast on a whole new level. Thank you to Luisa, Dave, Varajuan, Nancy, Chelen, Chris, Peter, David, John, Tim and the other students. Not only did I discover much about Spitzer while in California, I discovered a lot about myself. I'm not yet sure what I my major in college will be or where I'll even go, but I do know that I was pleasantly enlightened by this little cranny in the wide nook of astronomy.
Mr. Spuck prepared press releases for Oil City and shared with other teachers in team for use with their newspaper.