Research Experiences in Astronomy at CIERA for High School Students

Project: Research project

Project Details


REACH (, Research Experiences in Astronomy at CIERA for High school students, is a highly interactive, on campus, summer program that exposes high school students to astronomy research in an atmosphere of team-style learning, hands-on training, and mentorship from professional scientists. Students enrolled in the program receive key training in research skills, astronomy and astrophysics topics, and engage in astronomy research projects with CIERA astronomers. The Core Program is 3 weeks long and is an intensive introduction to necessary research skills, which are then honed by carrying out research 'mini-projects' designed and led by CIERA astronomers based on their current astronomy research. • Python Programming: The first 1.5 weeks focus on learning the Python programming language, using a series of Python Jupyter notebooks and Google Colab. Each topic in the curriculum is accompanied by related astronomy-themed ‘Challenge Problems’ to give the participants practice in utilizing the skills learned in each section. Topics include: Introduction to Python , Introduction to Data and Plotting in Python, Optimizing Python and Furthering Data Analysis • Astronomy Activities: Interactive activities and talks are included throughout the program to teach the participants about a range of astronomy topics. Examples of astronomy activities have included: Hike the Solar System, Astronomy Scattergories, Are We Alone in the Universe?, Extreme Solar Systems, Pinhole Camera Solar Viewing Exercise • Enrichment Programming: Throughout the 3 weeks, additional content is included to enrich the experience for the participants. This can include activities such as: Field Trips, Final Presentations, College Panel • Mini Research Projects: In the final 1.5 weeks of the Core program, participants undertake several research ‘mini’ projects built upon research actively being done at CIERA. These projects are designed by CIERA researchers as Jupyter notebooks and involve analysis of real astronomy observations, computer simulations, and/or theoretical calculations. Each mini-project notebook can be used by multiple participants and re-used in future years. Participants work through the notebooks, with guidance as needed from program personnel, over the course of 3-5 days. Each participant will complete 2-3 mini-projects. Examples of mini-projects include: How Bright are Accreting Black Holes?, Exploring Stellar Evolution with Gaia, Weighing Baby Solar Systems, Simulating Planetary Systems with Rebound, Short Gamma Ray Burst Afterglow Modeling Extended Program - 1:1 Research Project: A limited number of spots are also available for participants wishing to pursue an additional 3-week independent research project under the direct supervision of a CIERA mentor (faculty, postdoc, or graduate student). The mentor designs, with guidance from the Program Director, a 3-week research project appropriate for a high school student. The mentor and participant meet regularly for 3 weeks. The participant will engage with the mentee’s research group and experience the day-to-day life of an astronomer at CIERA. These research projects are unique to each participant. Past projects have included: Exploring Fast Radio Burst Host Galaxy Properties, Polarization in Baby Stars, Gravitational Waves from Mergers of Binary Black Holes, Exoplanet Biosignatures driven by Stellar Activity.
Effective start/end date6/1/228/31/23


  • Brinson Foundation (AGMT 6/23/22)


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