CIERA’s Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program provides middle and high school teachers opportunities to engage in cutting-edge astronomy research, and help them translate their research experiences into innovative curricula aligned with the national Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Teachers in the program worked in teams of two with a CIERA researcher over the course of four weeks to conduct original research in astronomy and astrophysics. The researchers — graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, or faculty – selected projects with an eye towards research that can be completed in the course of four weeks and is well-suited to serving as the basis for developing curricula. Throughout the first two weeks, the teachers attended trainings in Python and scientific computing where they developed the skills necessary to complete their projects. They also attended lectures by CIERA scientists as well as group meetings with their mentors (Chase Kimball and Giacomo Fragione) where they were exposed to the variety of research topics being investigated at CIERA.
Beyond providing intellectually enriching experiences for teachers, it is a crucial mission of this RET program to help them translate those experiences into their classrooms. The teachers attended intensive curriculum-development workshops led by experts at the Baxter Center for Science Education, part of Northwestern’s Office of Community Education Partnerships. These workshops allow the teachers to craft NGSS-aligned classroom curriculum or activities based on their research experience at CIERA.
Congratulations to all of the teachers that participated in the summer research and professional development program, and thank you to all of the graduate students, faculty, and staff that helped make this program possible! A special thank you to Chase Kimball (Riedel Family Graduate Fellow, 2021-2022), for directing the program.