Thinking Big for 25 Years: Astronomy Camp Research Projects

Type Conference Paper
Names Eric Jon Hooper, D. W. McCarthy, S. D. Benecchi, T. J. Henry, J. D. Kirkpatrick, C. Kulesa, M. S. Oey, J. Regester, W. M. Schlingman, Astronomy Camp Staff
Conference Name American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts, #221, #246.10
Volume 221
Date January 1, 2013
Short Title Thinking Big for 25 Years
URL http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2013AAS...22124610H
Library Catalog NASA ADS
Abstract Astronomy Camp is a deep immersion educational adventure for teenagers and adults in southern Arizona that is entering its 25th year of existence. The Camp Director (McCarthy) is the winner of the 2012 AAS Education Prize. A general overview of the program is given in an accompanying contribution (McCarthy et al.). In this presentation we describe some of the research projects conducted by Astronomy Camp participants over the years. Many of the Camps contain a strong project-oriented emphasis, which reaches its pinnacle in the Advanced Camps for teenagers. High school students from around the world participate in a microcosm of the full arc of astronomy research. They plan their own projects before the start of Camp, and the staff provide a series of "key projects." Early in the Camp the students submit observing proposals to utilize time on telescopes. (The block of observing time is secured in advance by the staff.) The participants collect, reduce and analyze astronomical data with the help of staff, and they present the results to their peers on the last night of Camp, all in a span of eight days. The Camps provide research grade telescopes and instruments, in addition to amateur telescopes. Some of the Camps occur on Kitt Peak, where we use an ensemble of telescopes: the 2.3-meter (University of Arizona) with a spectrograph; the WIYN 0.9-meter; the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope; and the 12-meter millimeter wave telescope. Additionally the Camp has one night on the 10-meter Submillimeter Telescope on Mt. Graham. Campers use these resources to study stars, galaxies, AGN, transiting planets, molecular clouds, etc. Some of the camper-initiated projects have led to very high level performances in prestigious international competitions, such as the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The key projects often contribute to published astronomical research (e.g., Benecchi et al. 2010, Icarus, 207, 978). Many former Campers have received Ph.D. degrees in astronomy and other sciences and are now faculty members, a current Hubble Fellow, the PI of a facility class instrument on an 11-meter telescope (SALT), etc.
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