Waynflete School, Portland, Maine
8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Ms. Curtis was part of a 2012 NITARP team.
Ms. Curtis and Ms. Linahan both had students selected for the online distance learning portion of the Women in Stem High School Aerospace Scholars (WISH) Project. If the students do well, it culminates with a summer experience at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Summer 2013.
I gave a presentation on my group's experience with NITARP at a dinner for about 100 members of the Waynflete School community, particularly people who have made generous donations to the school. The crowd was very impressed with the program and the idea of having students not only conduct authentic scientific research, but then also be able to present their findings to the scientific community.
To me what stood out [at my first AAS] was the wide variety of work – from characterization of the structure of the Milky Way (more of a challenge than I ever knew!) to the search for and characterization of exoplanets to the understanding of how quasar evolution relates to the origins of the Universe.
Just being exposed to the jargon is mind opening, and I can’t imagine walking into this convention and being asked to present without having this initial exposure. I think this [first AAS] trip is a crucial part of the program.
This experience has forced me to look at something new and has inspired me to enrich and improve my classes.
Thanks so much for an amazing experience. NITARP has opened doors for me in many ways. It’s exposed me to real research, it’s got me thinking about ways to innovate and create real research experiences for my students, and it’s made me aware of the numerous opportunities out there for science teachers to become better at what they do.
I would advise the scientists to not be afraid of pushing the teachers and students outside their comfort zone. It’s ok if the teachers and students are struggling- we’ll catch up! Just go – make us work hard. It’s what we signed up for.
I’ve already made big changes to my curriculum because of this program, and will continue to do so in future years. So far, I’ve added a photometry component to my astronomy class, and I’ve added programming with Python in my physics classes. I will be looking into research projects and will be designing work that students can do using telescope data and/or images either independently or as a class activity next year. Before my NITARP experience, I wouldn’t have even known where to begin to try to incorporate this kind of research into my classes.
I’ve already made big changes to my curriculum because of this program, and will continue to do so in future years.
After this experience, I’m more aware that beyond just teaching my students good science, my focus should be to prepare them for a career in science.
To get the chance to work with astronomers and researchers in the field, to do authentic research, and to attend conventions and be immersed in astronomy is absolutely amazing for a high school science teacher.
The NITARP experience is truly phenomenal, and our scientist was wonderful to work with – never condescending and always very clear in his explanations.
I think that more than anything else, hearing these kids talk about their work really convinced me how valuable this experience is for students.
It was really interesting talking with other NITARP groups about their posters. I was impressed over and over again by the students’ command of the material – clearly they were fully invested in this project. They explained their work with clarity and enthusiasm. I think that more than anything else, hearing these kids talk about their work really convinced me how valuable this experience is for students.
Because of my experience with NITARP, it has become clear to me that programming skills are essential for students entering scientific fields. My school does not currently teach programming, and I myself don't have a strong background in programming, but after I made this realization, I spent the summer of 2012 learning JAVA and Python and designing activities to teach Python to the juniors in my Physics classes. I've redesigned my Physics curriculum, and my students have now spent a total of about 3 weeks involved in programming activities, and will continue to do more throughout the year. This summer , I plan to take more programming classes to improve my own background so that I can continue to implement new programming for my school.
I gave a presentation on my group's experience with NITARP at a dinner for about 100 members of the Waynflete School community[..]. The crowd was very impressed with the program and the idea of having students not only conduct authentic scientific research, but then also be able to present their findings to the scientific community.
I think this [AAS] trip is a crucial part of the program. I learned so much about the many different telescopes, enjoyed the historical presentations, and found the exposure to the more specific research to be beneficial, even if I didn't understand that much about the research itself. It was also a great chance to meet scientists as well as other educators.