July 11, 2005. Teachers and Students Visit Spitzer Science Center. by Linda Vu, Spitzer Science Center. Smiling, Spitzer Staff Scientist Dr. Ranga-Ram Chary silently watched as 17-year old Katie Mills explained a complex plot of spikes and dips to Pasadena Star News reporter Kimm Groshong. Ironically, just two days before this interview, upon her arrival at the Spitzer Science Center (SSC), the North Carolina teen worried that she wasn’t “smart enough to do Dr. Chary’s job.” Mills was one of seven SSC guests, visiting the week of June 27. The group of three science teachers and four students are participants of the Spitzer Space Telescope Research Program for Teachers and Students, which granted 12 educators the use of three and a half hours of Spitzer observing time for educational observations. …Under the guidance of Dr. Chary, Cape Fear High School Astronomy Teacher and project team leader Harlan Devore proposed using Spitzer’s Infrared Spectrometer to study the geometry, composition, and physical properties of dust surrounding the supermassive black hole in Arp102B, a galaxy located in the constellation Hercules. “Because we can’t actually see inside the black hole, we hope to learn more about its energy source by studying the dust that is about to go inside it,” said Devore. “We [students] want to learn all we can learn from this experience,” added Mills. …the teachers were originally only given two hours of Spitzer observation time. However, because SSC Director Dr. Thomas Soifer found the proposals so impressive upon review, all six projects were accepted and the observation time was extended to three and a half hours. … astronomy teacher Devore,… will use Spitzer’s data in his “universe analysis” unit, which includes identifying stars based on absorption lines in their spectra. According to Devore, this visit to the SSC marks just the beginning of the data analysis process. “We will be analyzing this data for a good part of the next school year,” said Devore.
Spring, 2006. Jeff Adkins and students in the Antioch ESPACE Academy at Deer Valley High School (DVHS) have been involved in a project sponsored by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) to observe Active Galactic Nuclei on the Spitzer Infrared Space Telescope as well as ground based observations. Students are involved in these observations and data reductions. The first round of the project is complete and results were presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington, DC in January 2006. The results are online at http://www.espaceacademy.com (click on the Spitzer Space Telescope picture). They have been approved for another observation of a different AGN on the Global Telescope Network list maintained by Dr. Spear at Sonoma State University. They are welcoming amateur and professional observations of this target using BVRI filters or radio telescopes, to accompany their own observations of the target using school telescopes and remote control telescopes. Contact Jeff Adkins <astronomyteacher[at]mac.com>
Also DVHA students did pretty well at their county science fair. They won every award in our division except 1st place, took all 5 scholarships offered to students from Chevron (a total of $2500 distributed among 5 students), 3 awards from the local astronomical society, and got several other awards as well. Many thanks to all of the programs from NOAO, the Spitzer Science Center, HOU, and elsewhere that allowed our students to succeed. See the ESPACE press release page: http://homepage.mac.com/dvhscience/SpaceAcademy/press.html
Fall 2004. Jeff, HOU Teacher at Deer Valley HS in Antioch, CA, provides interesting details on his experience converting FITS images from professional-grade CCD cameras to FITS images that can be opened by the HOU Image Processing program. His experience is from work in the Teacher Leaders in Research Based Science Education (TLRBSE). This article is of special interest to Mac users. The article is at: http://homepage.mac.com/dvhscience/SpaceAcademy/Projects/iraf.html
Kevin McCarron: 1999. conducted a small education research study “Testing Actual Astronomy With Students” to see if doing real astronomy improves students’ understanding of color. This year the students used the techniques astronomers use to find the star color, a la HOU activity in Measuring Color to determine the color and temperature of four stars. He compared exam results from previous years to this year to test improvements in student’s understanding of light and color.