Published: June 15, 2008
This is my first report. To date, I have six students working on learning about the Z Cha variable star that is associated with my Spitzer team's project. The students have been doing several things. They are learning how to use Image J software to do photometry. Much time has been spent on this task since neither I, nor they have ever worked in photometry, and setting up Image J has been problematic. After our first meeting, last January at the AAS, the students began researching cataclysmic variable stars and WZ Sge. Than we moved on to researching the star we were assigned, but after a few months the star was changed to Z Cha.
I have hand picked some of my better and more interested students to learn about the Spitzer project and to do the research and to teach me about it. My students are very excited about this and have spent many hours working on "getting up to speed", sharing with each other and me. I have found that they are forcing me to go further than I thought possible. I've been very impressed with the student's proactiveness and the leadership role that they have taken. I know that they are taking pride in their work on this project. The students are currently learning about photometry, cataclysmic variable stars, and image processing. They have just completed a summary about Z Cha and are working on how to do photometry.
I plan on having students do some more real-data related work on variable star Z Cha and photometry. Than I hope that we can travel to the Spitzer Office to do analysis on the Spitzer data of Z Cha. Secondly, I would like to get more students involved in photometry of variable stars and look at other Spitzer data sets like WZ Sge. I would also like to utilize Yerkes observatory to take ground-based images of cataclysmic variables that students can create light curves for. Thirdly, I'd like some of the students to use this experience to apply for science fair or other science related competitions and do some presentations or poster sessions.