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Summer Astronomy Program for High School Teachers

Research Experiences for Teachers (RET)

Summer Astronomy Program for High School Teachers


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CIERA’s RET program provides 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 six 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 duration of the program and is well-suited to serving as the basis for developing curricula. 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 $6,000 ($1,000/week)
  • 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. STEM teachers at minority serving institutions and schools with economically disadvantaged students are especially encouraged to apply.

2024’s program aims to be hybrid, with some early trainings and workshops to be held in-person at CIERA in Evanston, IL. However, many aspects of the program may be completed remotely to allow flexibility for participants. If you must be fully remote, please contact James Schottelkotte at

2024 Program Dates: June 10 – July 19

Applications to open in late-February or early-March.

Application Deadline: April 7th, 2024



“I loved the lectures presented by NU researchers to learn more about the frontiers of research and to learn more about observation, instrumentation, and theory. I loved the weekly Kalogera group meetings to get a sense of how researchers collaborate informally. Working with my mentor on my own project was also super cool! I think that is a trifecta. The teacher centered workshops with Baxter Center was the glue that held it all together.” – 2022 Participant


The CIERA RET program is run in partnership with the Baxter Center for Science Education and is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
2022’s program was partially supported by the Alumnae of Northwestern University.
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