CARA Education and Outreach:
University Education

At first glance the Center's university education programs seem fairly typical. The scale of involvement of students may be higher than normal, with more than 77 students having participated, partly due to the aggressive stance CARA takes toward education and partly because of its support of undergraduates in research. Otherwise, these efforts seem no different than other programs. What is not obvious from the statistics are the advantages to the university students of participating in CARA. CARA students are part of a much wider, and more supportive network than are other university students. As a result of our experience with the Space Explorers, CARA knows well how critical a sound social support structure is. This broadened participation at the university level has two similar benefits. First, these students, by being members of a larger organization, have access to a rich array of other researchers and staff. Second, the network these students become a part of tends to support them and help them stay connected as they change institutions. This is perhaps why 2 out of 3 participants are still with the Center and remain with CARA for more than one year, and why one out of three postdoctoral fellows were CARA graduate students.

CARA is also able to add another dimension to university education by connecting graduate students who are interested in science education with willing students (e.g. Space Explorers). Over each of the past seven years CARA has supported one graduate student and encouraged them to experience classroom teaching. This initiative has been very effective in connecting the sometimes distant worlds of precollege education and research. It also has had greater ramifications as it served as the impetus for numerous new outreach initiatives and a few alternative science careers. The progress of L. Rebull (CARA TA '93-4) and T. Duncan (CARA TA '94-5) illustrate the positive influence of the Center.

L. Rebull best exemplifies how Center resources can act as a catalyst. She credits CARA with introducing her to the world of science education. In a newspaper article on outreach, ``Rebull said it was through her required teaching-assistantship working with inner-city high school students and the University's Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica that opened her eyes to the possibilities that teaching could happen in other ways. `I still honestly don't think I could ever teach in a high school classroom, but I really enjoy a more informal interaction,' she said." She has subsequently taken a leadership role in founding both the Science Partners For Teachers, which seeks to establishing one-on-one partnerships with Chicago-area K-12 school teachers, and the Chicago Public School/University of Chicago Internet Project (CUIP).

T. Duncan has recently embarked on a career as an assistant professor at the Portland State University Center for Science Education. His success exemplifies CARA's ability to cultivate a new generation of well prepared science educators. His duties will include teaching and developing a graduate program in science teaching. We can see the seeds of CARA's outreach methodology sprout as his teaching will include an innovative course that uses the Columbia River Basin as a theme for developing students' critical thinking, writing, and science/math skills. This course will be multidisciplinary, team-taught (physics, anthropology and literature), and will utilize current issues surrounding the Columbia river basin (energy generation, impact on the environment, cultural history of the area, etc.).

A particularly fortuitous relationship has been cultivated with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh (AIP), a collaboration that truly demonstrates the multidisciplinary nature of science. AIP is a two-year associate degree institution for Art and Design. As a result of a the efforts of CARA postdoctoral fellow D. Alvarez, a simple discussion three years ago that presented a number of tangible problems associated with working in the Antarctic launched the AIP Extreme Cold Weather Design curriculum. For the past three years, students have designed materials such as specialized gloves to meet the needs of researchers at the Pole. A number of functional prototypes have been produced and some are actually being used at the Pole. CARA researchers have been involved in all stages of this process, suggesting problems to solve, design modifications (e.g. ``Those pedals are too small for my boots."), and field testing the prototypes. This project has expanded in many directions as students have contacted industrial firms which have produced professional quality prototypes, and because this austral summer the top AIP student accompanied the prototypes to the pole to supervise the testing. There are two interesting footnotes to this project: both a student and a researcher, partly due to this collaboration, have been hired by Disney Corporation, and CARA and AIP have jointly applied for a grant under the NSF Advanced Technological Education program to enhance the project.

In June 1999, CARA is teaching one of the Chautauqua Short Courses for College Teachers, specifically Number 33 on Cosmology at the Millenium. Course runs June 14-16, 1999 here in Chicago.

For the summer of 1999, CARA has several REU students all over the country.