National OIR Lab (formally NOAO) started the Teen Astronomy Cafés program to excite the interest of talented youth in STEM. One Saturday a month during the academic year, high school students interact with astronomers who work with big data. Students learn about killer asteroids, exoplanets, lives and deaths of stars, variable stars, black holes, the structure of the universe, gravitational lensing, dark matter, colliding galaxies, and more. The format for the cafés is a short presentation by an astronomer, a computer-based lab activity and a discussion during lunch. In a room with 15 iMacs, students explore the astronomer's research, usually using Python coding. The team includes 7 local high school students, an undergraduate coordinator, 2 grad students, the astronomer and program director. The youth leaders help with setting up, running and taking down the café. Most importantly they help their fellow students with the computer activities. Plus their feedback (and the team's) shapes and improves the program. The experience offers them training in planning, leadership, and communication skills and encourages their personal interests in STEM. Six have gone into STEM disciplines in college. Presently, 50% of the students are from C and D graded schools. Over 50% are girls. Our science cafés demonstrate that scientists play a key role in increasing student interest and curiosity about science research and in helping students get a sense of scientists as people. The cafés also demonstrate that scientists can help students see how research connects with issues important to society and with students' daily lives. There are two exciting new developments for the Teen Astronomy Café. A guide is now available to any institution that may want to start a Teen Astronomy Café. An online and in-situ training workshop on this topic is being planned for Spring 2020. Secondly, Jupyter notebooks on the python-coded activities are available on the National OIR Lab's Data Lab server. The notebooks are usable in informal settings such as a café or within the classroom and have been vetted. For details, please come to our presentation.
American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #235
- Pub Date:
- January 2020