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Paper: Inspiring Students to Pursue STEM through e-Teen Astronomy Cafés
Volume: 531, ASP2020: Embracing the Future: Astronomy Teaching and Public Engagement
Page: 204
Authors: Walker, C.; Newhouse, M.
Abstract: Our world has changed due to COVID-19. As a result, online programs for STEM education have become more prevalent. One of NSF NOIRLab's in-person programs, Teen Astronomy Cafés, where students and astronomers meet to discuss timely science topics, has transitioned to an online forum. While this required some reformatting, it has seeded new opportunities to extend its reach to larger and more diverse participation, from both students and astronomers. An Enciso Systems team worked hand in hand with NOIRLab project coordinators to create versions of the Teen Astronomy Café Notebooks that can be executed online using Google's Colab and Binder. With the launch of NOIRLab, scientists from all sites can more easily connect and contribute, particularly those in CSDC and Gemini Observatory who are at the forefront of Big Data research, eager to share their knowledge. Plus Colab Python notebooks can now be used within high school to early college classrooms and are available if institutions would like to start their own brand of Teen Astronomy Cafés. Recent programs illustrate this expanded involvement. The online Café in May featured one of Rubin Observatory EPO's online interactive investigations called the Expanding Universe. In June, two doctoral candidates from the U. of Arizona had an activity, called Breaking the Solar System, so intriguing that students didn't want to leave! The October 3 Café given by Everett Schlawin from Steward Observatory on Finding the Ingredients of Other Worlds: How Spectra Tell Us What Extrasolar Planets are Made Of included the first outside-of-Tucson students. The next two will be given on 7 November by Adam Bolton (CSDC) on Looking through Gravitational Lenses and on 5 December by Stephanie Juneau (NOIRLab) on Black Holes and the Fate of Galaxies. With this strong foundation, the plan is to roll out Teen Astronomy Café to a wider audience in the coming months. Come to our interactive session to experience one of the online Café Notebooks!
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