Thus ends the second summer of the CUIP Astro AllStar program, run by NASA and the University of Chicago’s Astronomy Department. This was the first summer with students in addition to teachers. I found it particularly rewarding to work alongside of my fellow mentor teachers, with whom I have spend 15 months with so far, the new teachers and the students. The addition of students but with a split day really seemed to work well. The mornings spent with teachers, along with never all very helpful mornings spend in very extended Q&A sessions with Professor Don York were very nice and very helpful in wrapping my brain around the concepts we explored in the afternoons at full strength, with the students as well.
Two big things stand out for me:
1) I never realized how quickly the field of astronomy changes. I got my bachelors in Astro in 2003, I worked in an astro department until 2005 and I edited for the Astrophysical Journal until 2008, and things that we “knew” at each of those points have since changed.
2) The addition of students to created a co-learning environment is a fantastic way to set up a program. The students will ask questions that had not occurred to the teachers, and vice versa. Since many of the teachers had a science, if not specifically an engineering/physics degree, some things we “already knew” were things that actually needed to be clarified, or had changed since we learned them, as referenced above.
All in all, is was a fantastic program, and I look forward to another year!