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Summer Astronomy Program for Middle and High School Teachers

Research Experiences for Teachers (RET)

Summer Astronomy Program for Middle and High School Teachers

CIERA’s 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 work 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 – select 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 attend trainings in Python and scientific computing where they develop the skills necessary to complete their projects. They also attend lectures by CIERA scientists as well as group meetings with their mentors where they are be 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 attend 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 and mentors to craft classroom experiences in alignment with national NGSS.

Participants in the RET program:
  • Pursue an interdisciplinary astronomy research project over the summer in collaboration with Northwestern University faculty and researchers
  • Get paid! Includes a stipend of $4000
  • Have focused time for curriculum development based on research experiences
  • Train in computer programming, use of Northwestern’s Quest high performance computing cluster, and other technical research skills 

No prior experience in programming or research is required.

2022 Program Dates: June 21 – July 19
2024 Program Dates: TBD
The 2022 CIERA RET program was partially supported by the Alumnae of Northwestern University. It is run in partnership with the Baxter Center for Science Education
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