• IPAC
Margaret (Peggy) Piper

Ms. Margaret (Peggy) Piper

Margaret (Peggy) Piper

Lincoln-Way North High School, (unkn), Illinois

Grades or community reached

10, 11, 12

Job Title

Science Teacher


Ms. Piper was part of the first NITARP class.





  • [from one of Ms. Piper's students, 4 years after NITARP:] I felt like I should tell you about my current trajectory because without you and our work with NITARP, I don't know where I'd be headed right now!

  • To end the trip, I had the opportunity to speak at the "State of the Universe" Congressional Briefing. I was proud to have the opportunity to represent so many educators and public outreach professionals as I spoke about the impact that their tireless work has on educators, students and the public.

  • I felt a higher level of interest this year from visitors to our posters than in the past. At our education poster, many graduate students and astronomers really wanted to know how we had used Python programming with high school students and what our stumbling blocks had been. At our science poster, several other researchers listened to our work and then went on to describe similar work that they were currently working on that was showing similar results. This was again a definite "out of the classroom" experience, sharing work delving in to new areas of research with graduate students and astronomers.

  • We were also lucky to have two astronomers who were very knowledgeable who disagreed on many aspects of our work. Students can't get this kind of authentic learning experience in a typical classroom setting. Listening to both sides of the discussion and then being able to explain our work based on those thoughts was a thought-provoking experience for our students.

  • Because we are learning programming, it will take more time to write script to do the analysis but it will be easier to change that script and apply it to different situations once it is written. Programming is also an invaluable tool that we can only pass on to our students if we are confident using it in complex situations ourselves. [...]It is already becoming apparent that coding is going to make our ability to look at and compare many sources manageable.

  • All of these students are seniors in high school and the opportunity to meet educators, scientists and astronomers from all over the world was a eye opening experience. All of the adults they met were very encouraging of my brood and asked questions about the poster that they were here to present as well as their future plans. This exposure was not only a boost to their confidence, but a nice taste of the kind of things they would need to do the next day to present their poster.

  • I think the overriding theme of what new teachers need to know it that, yes, even though you are going to feel overwhelmed at times you need to sit back and enjoy the ride.

  • Mentoring adults in these capacities [as a NITARP mentor educator] improves my ability to act more as a mentor to my classroom students, allowing them to become more self-sufficient learners. I feel this has improved my ability to mentor my colleagues as well.

  • Our lead astronomer, Luisa Rebull, has a very energetic style and pushes her team to the limits. Our group of teachers put in many hours each week for a full year to learn the topic or skill at hand followed by a weekly teleconference. The pressure was on and I loved it!

  • This past year was a very intense NITARP experience for me, stretching my intellectual and technological skills beyond their limits while learning to be a mentor teacher and of course transferring as much of this experience to my students as possible.

  • Attending the AAS in Seattle with my students was an incredible experience. I got a chance to step back and see [my students] interact confidently with their peers, other educators and professional astronomers from all over the world. We started this journey exactly a year ago and have come a long way. Learning scientfic concepts and doing authentic scientific research was only part of the experience, we also learned to communicate across the country. [...]

  • My confidence level speaking to this vast assortment of astronomy professionals has risen significantly, and this translates directly to my ability to convey what I have learned and experienced -- to not only my students but other teachers and my community.

  • How cool for the kids see a poster right next to theirs being presented by three university professors on one side and a graduate student on the other.

  • Our kids did a fantastic job of interacting with the many astronomers and educators that came to see our poster. They were poised and knowledgeable and handled questions with ease. I heard many compliments not only about the students explanation of our work, but also about the great job they did constructing their poster.

  • AAS 2012 was my third trip to a convention and it was a marathon event. I had a lot more commitments/connections this go-round which made the experience richer. I knew the lay of the land and was able to target areas I wanted to cover. I was also better able to help some of the newbies and my students find their way. My confidence level speaking to this vast assortment of Astronomy professionals has risen significantly and this translates directly to my ability to convey what I have learned and experienced to not only my students but other teachers and my community.

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