• IPAC
David Black

Mr. David Black

David Black

Walden School of Liberal Arts, Provo, Utah

Grades or community reached

7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12


David Black has taught at public, private, and charter schools and applied technology colleges in Utah and California for 22 years. He teaches a combination of physical science (chemistry, physics, astronomy) and computer application (media design, video production, and 3D animation) classes at Walden School of Liberal Arts in Provo, Utah.

His students have completed many exciting projects that integrate science and authentic data with media design and computer technology. For example, his students designed 3D animations of the origin and features of the Moon for the NASA Lunar Science Institute. They filmed and edited a video lesson plan on astronomy for MIT. They have worked with Mars scientists to predict possible sandstorms that could hinder the Mars Exploration Rovers. They also created a 2-hour documentary for KUED, Salt Lake City’s PBS station, on the history of AM radio, called “AM to FM: Three Decades of Radio in Utah.”

David is a SOFIA Airborne Astronomy Ambassador and flew on SOFIA in June, 2013. He has helped to plan and present educator workshops for the NASA Explorer Schools program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. David is also a frequent presenter at state and national educator conferences and a member of the Aerospace Advisory Board for the National Science Teachers Association.

As of January 2014, students at Walden School are editing video footage and creating 3D models of SOFIA, NASA’s airborne infrared observatory as well as preparing to do original astronomy with Caltech’s NITARP program in 2014.





  • I already had a pretty good idea of how astronomers do science, but NITARP helped me see more exactly how data is collected, processed, and analyzed. It helped me also see that I can do astronomy myself, and can make a contribution beyond my own classroom. Not only can I analyze astronomical data to find scientifically useful results, but I can publish my work as a poster and be part of this community. I did not feel like a stranger or usurper or even out of place – it felt like I belonged.

  • I found [astronomers] to be approachable, willing to talk with mere mortals such as myself, and more than happy to explain their work. Everyone I talked with at poster sessions and elsewhere was enthusiastic and excited about their discoveries. It was the kind of community of learners that I try to model in my classroom, and it will be the most important thing I take back from the conference to share with my students – that astronomers are regular people who are happy to share what they know. The second most important thing is that they can do this, too (and will be doing this) and there are no barriers to their becoming professional astronomers if they want to.

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The 2025 NITARP application is now available! Go here for the instructions. Applications are due by 3pm Pacific time, Friday Sep 13, 2024. (NOTE: contingent on availability of funds and AAS travel!)