The Impact of and Lessons Learned from NITARP, the NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program
NITARP, the NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program, gets teachers involved in authentic astronomical research. We partner small groups of educators with a professional astronomer mentor for a year-long original research project. The teams echo the entire research process, from writing a proposal, to doing the research,
to presenting the results at an American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting. The program runs from January through January. Applications are available annually in May and are due in September. The educators’ experiences color their teaching for years to come, influencing hundreds of students per teacher. This program differs from other programs we know of that get real astronomy data into the classroom in three ways. First, each team works on an original, unique project. There are no canned labs here! Second, each team presents their results in posters in science sessions at an American Astronomical Society meeting alongside other researchers’ work (participants are not given a “free pass” because they are educators or students). Third, the “product” is the scientific result, not any sort of curriculum packet. The teachers adapt their project and their experiences to fit in their classroom environment. NITARP changes the way
teachers think about science and scientists. More information is available online at http://nitarp.ipac.caltech.edu/.