NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program (NITARP)
NITARP, the NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program, gets teachers involved in authentic astronomical research. They partner small groups of educators with a mentor professional astronomer for an original research project. The educators incorporate the experience into their classrooms and share their experience with other teachers. The program runs January through January. Applications for the 2016 class of educators are available now and due on September 21, 2015. The program is funded completely via a NASA ADAP grant.
Some things that make this program different from many (if not most) other astronomy programs for educators: (1) Each team does original research using real astronomical data, not canned labs or reproductions of previously done research; (2) Each team writes up the results of their research and presents it in a science poster session at an American Astronomical Society meeting (the AAS is the professional organization for astronomers in the US). The posters are distributed throughout the meeting, in amongst other researchers’ work; the participants are not “given a free pass” because they are educators and students. Each team also presents the educational results of their experience in the program. (3) The program runs over 13 months, not just a few days or weeks. (4) Teachers are encouraged to involve their students from the beginning of the program.
Most of the educators are high school classroom educators, but 8th grade, community college, and informal educators have participated as well. The kinds of educators they are looking for are those who already know the basics of astronomy, and are interested in learning exactly how astronomy research is conducted. All educators must be US-based.