• IPAC

Program Components

The main program components involve multiple trips for which NITARP pays and a commitment from the teachers to educate others about their experiences, both of which are conducted over at minimum of 2 years. The specific program components are:

  1. Attending a NITARP workshop held at a January meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting, for example, New Orleans, LA, in January 2024. The purpose of this workshop (held the day the AAS meeting) is to learn about the basics of the NASA archives to be used, including learning about infrared light, to meet your team, meet your scientist, and define the research project to be conducted. The reason for attending the AAS meeting (and not just returning home immediately after the workshop) is to understand how AAS meetings work and to learn about current astronomy research; the time will also be spent continuing to work with your team to define your project. Your project may be something that you or another teacher in your group initiates, or it may be something that your scientist mentor suggests, or some combination of the two; your team will discuss it in person. For example, the 2024 AAS meeting started on a Sunday evening and goes through Thursday. Our NITARP workshop occurs all day on that Sunday. You are expected to attend the AAS from Sunday until at least Tuesday. Travel would then be conducted on Saturday, returning Wednesday or Thursday.
  2. Working long distance with each other on a research program that uses data from Spitzer, IRSA, NED, and/or NStED, in conjunction with NOAO and NASA scientists, using telephone conferences (telecons) and internet-based resources such as email and a wiki (where everyone with an account on the system can edit pages, post images or proposal drafts, ask and answer questions, etc.).
  3. Meeting for 3 days in Pasadena, California at Caltech (specifically IPAC and the SSC) to work on the data and to understand the science process. Each team will decide when to meet (dates TBD, probably -- but not necessarily -- in the Summer). This program is primarily for teachers, but in order to support your educational efforts, you may have the opportunity to bring up to 2 students per teacher to IPAC. The students must be heavily involved in the project; more details will be available to the teachers in the program.
  4. Attending the next January AAS meeting (in the following January) to present results of your project, both from a scientific and educational perspective. Again, you may have the opportunity to bring up to 2 students per teacher to the AAS. Travel costs associated with these meetings (trip to AAS meeting to get started, trip to IPAC to work on project, and trip to AAS to present project results), within reason, are covered by NITARP.
  5. Serving as NASA/NITARP ambassadors who give 12 hours' worth of professional development workshops in their home school districts. Each teacher will be expected to give the equivalent in hours of 3 half-day professional development workshops in their district, or neighboring school districts, and at least 3 talks on the project (e.g., local, state, regional, or national teacher conferences) over the first 2 years of your time in the program. The professional development workshops will focus on teaching about infrared astronomy and may use infrared teaching kits that we will provide to you. These kits will have infrared teaching videos, teacher guides, such as the Invisible Universe GEMS guide, other teaching materials kits such as the NASA SOFIA project infrared kit, plus additional teaching tools such as the Newport infrared-sensing cards.
  6. Serving as mentor teachers in the community of NITARP teachers. The first year that you are in NITARP, you spend most of your program time learning about infrared, Spitzer, IRSA, NED, NStED, the relevant software, the relevant science, etc. As a "first year" NITARP teacher, you attend an AAS meeting and a meeting at IPAC to further these goals. Your second year commences with the second AAS meeting, and extends at least through the end of that school year. As a "second year" NITARP teacher, you are more experienced and spend most of your program time working with your students on the project, conducting professional development workshops, and interacting with other teams, e.g., on the NITARP wiki. Since, as a second year teacher, you are attending your second AAS meeting at the same time as it is anticipated that new first year teachers will be attending their first meeting, explicit mentoring of these new teachers is encouraged. Third year and later teachers, known as "NITARP alumni teachers," are still encouraged to be part of the NITARP community. (All of the previous Spitzer teachers are now regarded as alumni teachers.) Alumni teachers may be asked to join new teams to help mentor the new teachers. Some funding may be available to bring alumni teachers (even those not explicitly part of new teams) to subsequent AAS meetings. Some funding and opportunities may be available for additional ground- or space-based follow-up observations to further investigate questions raised by your research project. Additional activities are planned to create a sense of community among all alumni teachers; some alumni teachers may be asked to help lead these activities.
  7. [NB: Teachers are asked to submit regular reports to us at IPAC describing project-related activities (workshops, etc.).]

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!)