• IPAC


What is NITARP? NITARP, the NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program, is a mechanism for getting authentic research experiences ultimately into classrooms across the United States. We partner scientists with (primarily) high school teachers, do a research project, and the teachers incorporate the experience into their classroom.

Who is doing this? Who is running it? The Spitzer Science Center (SSC) and the NASA Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) are leading this program (originally with help from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, NOAO). Who can participate? We select educators from a nation-wide selection process. Who is providing the data for this? We are using archival data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED), the NASA Exoplanet Archive, the NASA/IPAC Infrared Science Archive (IRSA) and other NASA archive holdings.

What is the goal? NITARP’s goals for educators are to provide a professional development experience for teachers that enables them to experience the real research process, through which we deepen their understanding of the nature of research and ultimately affect their current and future students via changes in their teaching styles.  These goals include by extension the fundamental NASA goals of inspiring and motivating students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as well as to engage the public in shaping and sharing the experience of exploration and discovery. Our educational plan addresses the NASA objectives of improving student proficiency in science and improving science instruction by providing a unique opportunity for groups of teachers and students (with the help of a mentor astronomer) to work with professional astronomical archival data and tools. The research team completes the data analysis, and presents their findings to others throughout the scientific community. The teachers are also expected to give presentations at relevant teachers' conferences and/or professional development presentations for their local educator community.

Didn't this used to be called something else? The original incarnation of this program was started in mid-2004 and was called the Spitzer Space Telescope Research Program for Teachers and Students. Leveraging on a well-established teacher professional development program, the SSC offered this program to teachers in the Teacher Leaders in Research Based Science Education (TLRBSE), a then-ongoing program at NOAO. This NSF-sponsored program touched the formal education community through a national audience of well-trained and supported middle and high school teachers. Under the Spitzer name, there were three rounds of teacher selection and research projects between 2005 and 2008. Starting in 2009, we got new funding and a new name (NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program -- NITARP).

How can I be involved? This program is aimed at high school teachers, though 8th grade and community college teachers might also benefit. In certain contexts, non-classroom and/or non-traditional educators may also participate, provided they have a plan for sharing their experiences with their community at home. Please contact us if you have specific questions.
How can I be involved, whether or not I am formally part of NITARP? Some of the teams have developed and shared resources. See Resources for the Classroom for materials developed for the classroom by some participating teams. There are also some Resources for Participants that might be of interest - For example, one of the teams in the original program started a wiki where we could share all sorts of materials we developed, which was then inherited by the next generation NITARP project. Even if you are not part of this program, you can check out these resources. There are also many other programs getting real astronomy data into the classroom which may be of interest.
How can I be involved, e.g., be a teacher who is part of NITARP? Applications are solicited annually, as long as we have money available. Applications are typically posted in May, and are due in September.


We're back from the Jan 2024 AAS and we had a grand time!