• IPAC
Jacqueline Barge

Ms. Jacqueline Barge

Jacqueline Barge

Walter Payton College Prep High School, Chicago, Illinois

Grades or community reached

11, 12


Ms. Barge was part of the C-WAYS team in 2012.

At her first AAS, she smashed through a preconception that all astronomers were going to be older people; she also learned that engineers and graphic artists can also have jobs in astronomy and earth science. She also got a lot of support from her school community after they saw the press release!





  • The press release [from NITARP] had an unexpected effect at my school. When I came into school the day after returning from AAS219, the first person [..] told me how my principal was very excited. He had told our parent organization all about my participation. He had me come down and talk to him about it. We had a health fair at the school that day and parent volunteers were coming up to me and saying how they had heard about this project and asked what it was. Some kids in my classes had heard from their parents that I got a job at NASA so they thought I was gone for good! The conference was happening during our first week back after a two week break, so they didn't remember what I had told them about my visit to a conference. It was great to come to the enthusiasm at school and they are very supportive of the project. Kudos to the PR department.

  • I was surprised at the number of young people. [..]I am used to seeing older people as astronomers as we watch Nova and other videos or read about past astronomers in class.

  • I thought the talks and posters were great. Watching scientists talk to each other and question each other was interesting.

  • I didn't anticipate meeting engineers and graphic artists. Thinking about it now, it seems natural that they are part of the astronomical community, but it wasn't something I was thinking about prior to this conference. I am trying to make a push to expose my students to other jobs in astronomy/earth science besides the "scientist", so this experience was helpful.

  • I didn't anticipate meeting engineers and graphic artists [at the AAS].

  • One of the best things was going to a dissertation talk by the young lady I met on the airplane. She gave a great talk and was able to answer the questions asked of her by the older astronomers present. She was clear so even I understood a lot of what she was saying, especially in the beginning, but she didn't water down what she did and found out in her research. She was able to give answers even when the question probed something she didn't study by explaining what she thought the research indicated. This was in contrast to another young man who was giving a dissertation talk earlier in that session. When asked a particular question, he could give no answer. It was hard to sit there in that silence. You kept hoping he would say something and was very glad when he finally did, even though it was "I hadn't thought of that."

  • ...it was wonderful to listen to [the NITARP 2011] students explaining their projects and answering questions from astronomers. [One student] did a great job. He was confident in his explanation of the project and what his group found. He understood was he was talking about. I think it was one of the best presentations I heard by high school students.

  • Seeing and hearing about scientists at work, on different projects, brought to life the reality of scientists doing scientific work.

  • You really do become co-learners with the students.

  • I have already talked to my department about adding an astronomy research class to our class choices next year and they are very enthusiastic.

  • I was very surprised that 20 students stayed very engaged during the whole process at my school since it spanned two school years. None of these students had had an astronomy class before this project, so their background knowledge was pretty low. They jumped in with both feet and kept learning or figuring out what they needed to know. The students were very much into doing research.

  • The most interesting thing [of my NITARP experience] was having to actually do research – researching articles & known information; looking up images in databases; doing photometry; making judgments on sources.

  • [at the AAS 2013,] My school participated in the Educational Outreach Day. I found this to be a very, very good experience. There were a lot of students present and the talk by the Mohawk guy [Ferdowsi] was very good. The events in the exhibit hall were very well done. Please pass on my thanks to the group that organized this. My students had good background knowledge and still found many of the activities interesting. I was watching other student groups and saw that they were very engaged.

  • One evening, while working on some homework, I had the realization that THIS WAS REAL. There is no right answer, in fact, no one knows the answer. I can't just go and ask someone the answer. It was like a light bulb went off and I experienced a feeling of excitement and also felt a little bit scared. I thought to myself -- Is this how astronomers feel about their work? It was a great feeling and exciting that I too am part of this now.

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