CIERA programming and resources to engage the public, enrich communities, and support teachers & classrooms.
The Center for Interdisciplinary Education & Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) leads in astrophysics theory, observation, and data science, but we’re so much more! We train and empower the next generation of scientists, we’re growing our programs in K-12 STEM education, and we cultivate the public’s enthusiasm for astronomy with our outreach initiatives.
CIERA is committed to STEM outreach and education that serves the broader community – empowering women & minorities and creating a more diverse, inclusive and equitable society and STEM community. Towards that end, CIERA education and outreach follows these guiding principles:
- Maximize accessibility and remove barriers
- Reach and respond to the needs of underprivileged communities
- Foster a diverse and active community of volunteers
Upcoming Events for the Public
Jan 26, 2024
Feb 23, 2024
Mar 29, 2024
Apr 26, 2024
May 31, 2024
Jun 28, 2024
Interact With CIERA
Whether virtually or in-person, once in a while or every few weeks, there are plenty of ways to interact with CIERA! Check out some of the options below.
Annual Public Lectures
Every year, CIERA hosts a prominent astronomer to give a free public talk on the most essential and timely topics in astronomy. Past speakers have included many astronomers of great renown, including several Nobel laureates.
Astronomy Night Out
CIERA’s Astronomy Night Out series brings campus and the Chicagoland community together to hear a CIERA astronomer speak on a fascinating, timely topic.
CIERA Astronomer Evenings
Attend a monthly astronomer evening at the historic Dearborn Observatory. In addition to the opportunity to observe through the telescope, Astronomer Evenings provide the chance to learn from one of CIERA's astronomers during a short presentation/demonstration, followed by a Q&A session.
Astronomy on Tap
Attend an astronomy trivia night, hangout, and join a Q&A session with CIERA astronomers at a local bar.
Star Eyes Initiative
The Star Eyes Initiative uses diverse styles of music to communicate physics topics with wide and varied audiences in refreshing ways, breaking conventional music-science associations and facilitating multiple forms of outreach in the process.
Dearborn Observing Sessions
Attend a weekly tour and observing session at the historic Dearborn Observatory, led by experienced Northwestern astronomy students. Tour the observatory, learn about its history, view observing footage, and (weather permitting) use the telescope!
Lessons & Training
CIERA develops a variety of publicly-available materials and programs for local K-12 teachers and students to use, including lesson plans, computer coding tutorials, and an annual summer camp for high schoolers.
REACH Summer Program
Research Experiences in Astronomy at CIERA for High School Students is an interactive 3-6 week program that provides high school students experience with astronomy research in an atmosphere of team-style learning, hands-on training, and mentorship from professional scientists.
Python Programming Tutorials
In astronomy, a working knowledge of a programming language is essential for much of our day-to-day work – from analyzing telescope data or running simulations to generating fancy visualizations. For this reason, CIERA has developed programming tutorials for beginning scientists.
Reach for the Stars Lesson Plans
Over the years, CIERA Reach for the Stars graduate student fellows have put together lesson plans, on a wide variety of science and math topics, that are free to download for use in classrooms.
We have created a variety of ways to explore and interact with CIERA science on your own! This includes everything from brochures about astronomy topics to participating in the science itself via citizen science projects. CIERA is also active on several media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Citizen science is an exciting and growing enterprise where professional scientists team up with the public to analyze data and contribute to scientific research. Apply what you learn and contribute to science by participating in a citizen science project!
See and explore beautiful simulations of a galaxy, the final moments before a neutron star collision, the family of black holes detected from gravitational wave merger events, and more! Check out interactive visualizations made by scientists at CIERA.
CIERA creates educational brochures available at many of our public events. Covering topics ranging from cosmology to galaxy formation and career paths, these brochures can also be downloaded for use in K-12 classrooms.
Stop by the CIERA gallery to view many exciting science videos, images, interviews, talks and more!
While CIERA runs many of its own dedicated public and K-12 outreach programs, there are many excellent programs run by other organizations, many of which CIERA members are also involved in. Some of these include: