Outreach Program Archive
Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica and the Space Explorers
The Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica (CARA) works with the Unversity's Office of Special Programs and many other collaborators to teach physics and astronomy to inner-city high school students, nicknamed the "Space Explorers." There is an overview page describing more of CARA's outreach activities.
Ask the Astronomer
On May 14, 1999, a number of the members of the Department answered questions about astronomy and cosmology from high school students in Pocatello, Idaho. The people involved were Tom Crawford, Visnja Katalinic, Cole Miller, Lucia Munoz-Franco, Jens Niemeyer, Erik Reese, Dan Reichart, Paul Ricker, Aparna Venkatesan, Craig Wiegert, Grant Wilson, and Mike Zingale. For a description of this program, check out the technology bulletin written about this activity in the Pocatello school district.
This group was established one-on-one graduate student / teacher partnerships for curriculum development projects. From their page, "we want to develop a relationship in which the graduate student gains and inside look at teaching while the teacher gains a source of current scientific knowledge." This group was sucessful, but was called to a halt when the founders needed to graduate.
Du Sable High School and the Internet
Du Sable HS is about a mile west of the University of Chicago, across the street from the Robert Taylor Homes, the largest public housing project in the city (and, indeed, in the country). Mordecai-Mark Mac Low, Jim Lauroesch, and Don York (all of this department) worked hard to bring the Internet to DuSable. DuSable now maintained their own web server until they had a fatal disk crash. An article (written for the Chronicle) on this project is available on line. This school was the inspiration for CPS/UofC Internet Project (CUIP).
Eclipse in VietNam
On October 24, 1995, the umbral shadow of a total solar eclipse swept across the Asian subcontinent and southeast Asia, including Viet Nam. In conjunction with this eclipse, an international physics/astrophysics conference was held: "Second Rencontres du Vietnam: The Sun and Beyond - the High Energy Perspective". At the request of Professor J. Tran Van, Dr. Priscilla Frisch (a member of the Program Committee) and Dr. Hien Nguyen wrote an informational booklet about the eclipse for the Vietnamese public. This booklet, "Day of Two Nights: Shadows Across Asia", introduces basic information about eclipses and the Sun. It was translated into Vietnamese, and was published both as a series in a national Vietnamese newspaper, and as a book for use in Vietnamese classrooms.
"...a series of intensive summer seminars for Chicago area middle school and high school teachers. The goal of the program is to bring middle school and high school teachers up to date in their fields and to renew their intellectual interest in scholarly activity. Many of the seminars also concern themselves with providing teachers with teaching materials and methods to take back to the classroom." Professor Don York is one of the instructors for this program.
Project Astro pairs astronomers and teachers for year-long partnerships in which the astronomer "adopts" the classroom, visiting it several times over the year. NSF-funded and recently (96-97 school year) expanding from California to the Chicago area through Adler. Contact Adler directly for more information or to volunteer.
Live from Antarctica and Live from the Stratosphere
These programs are part of the Passport to Knowlege series (produced by Geoff Haines-Stiles Productions and Maryland Public Television), featuring live connections between scientific field researchers and school children across the US. By using live television and internet connections, students can ask questions of the researchers interactively. Live from Antarctica took place in December 1994-January 1995 and involved UofC researchers working for CARA, the Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica. Live from the Stratosphere took place in October 1995 and involved UofC researchers working on the Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO), an airplane with a telescope on board. In addition to being scientists on the programs, many UofC people were involved in the work ahead of time to develop lesson plans for these programs. Although the programs and hence the interactive components of them have already ended, video tapes of the programs and teacher's guides can still be obtained, and there is still extensive information on these programs available from Quest, the home of NASA's K-12 internet initiative.
Each scientist is assigned five groups of pen pal kids, all either in 4-6th grade or 7-9th grade. The kids (and the scientists) get labs from the Museum of Science in Boston; the kids send their observations and questions to their pen-pal scientist via snail mail. For 1995-96, the topics are "Science of Sports" and "Planetary Science"; for 1994-95, the topics were weather, science magic, and garbage. The labs are clever and the kids are fun! For info, write to Science-By-Mail, Museum of Science, Science Park, Boston, MA 02114-1099.
Young Scholars Program
Each year in the summer, the Department of Mathematics selects about 90 Chicago public school students to join the Young Scholars Program (funded by the NSF), which is organized by Paul Sally and Diane Herrman. Students are divided in 3 groups (7th - 8th, 9th - 10th, and 11th - 12th) and they study Mathematics every day of the week for one month. In addition to the Geometry class, the 9th - 10th graders have a science class: either Astronomy or Physics and computer labs. The Astronomy class, more specifically: Geometry in Astronomy, is taught every two years 5 days a week for one hour followed by computer labs where problems are solved interactively: radius of the Earth, radius of the Moon, distance to the Sun, Trigonometric Parallax, Moving Cluster Method, Hubble, Curvature of Space, among other topics.