• IPAC
Debbie French

Dr. Debbie French

Debbie French

  • Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • New Philadelphia High School, New Philadelphia, Ohio (when in NITARP)

Grades or community reached

Pre-service Teachers, Other Educators

Job Title

Assistant Professor of Science Education


Ms. French was on a 2012 NITARP team.





  • As a former physics and engineering teacher, I sought research opportunities for my students.  Teaching at a rural high school left me with limited access to scientific journals and lab supplies.  To provide better research experiences for my students, I sought collaborations with professors across the nation.  While these experiences were fantastic, my students and I primarily collected and analyzed data.  I wanted to jump into a research project that went from start to finish, with all of the iterations in between.  NITARP afforded me that opportunity.  As a partial result of NITARP, I left my high school teaching job to pursue a doctorate in curriculum and instruction.  My research focused on getting authentic science and STEM experiences into the K12 classroom.  In addition to the science education focus, I also took 29 graduate hours in astronomy.  I am now an Assistant Professor of STEM Education at Wilkes University where I teach K12 preservice teachers from all disciplines, as well as teach specialized courses in science education.  Incorporating authentic experiences throughout all disciplines is a hallmark of my classes.  Additionally, I also provide professional development opportunities for inservice teachers on how to use astronomy as a vehicle to teach STEM and how to incorporate authentic scientific inquiry in the K12 classroom. Participating in NITARP really solidified my philosophy of K12 teaching.  As many previous NITARP-ers have expressed, this was a life-changing PD.  

  • There was a nice group of people around each poster [from NITARP 2011]. The students were all very well-prepared and gave a fabulous presentation! They all fielded questions very well. It was very, very impressive to see!

  • While a lot of astronomy is done by computer, nothing compares to having a human look over the data.

  • This experience has made me conscious of how important it is to have students work with real data. I will definitely seek out more opportunities to include real data in my lessons and labs.

  • [This experience] has made me realize that while I use a lot of inquiry, I don’t always involve my students in the process of developing a testable question.

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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!)