AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 92 Astronomy Education: Collaborations and Research
Oral, Tuesday, 10:00-11:30am, January 10, 2006, Balcony B

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[92.03] The START Collaboratory: Broadening Participation in Astronomy Research

C.R. Pennypacker (UC Berkeley), M.J. Raddick (Johns Hopkins University), G.J. Greenberg (Northwestern University), V. Hoette (Univ. of Chicago), K. Meredith (U.C. Berkeley)

The START Collaboratory is a three-year, NSF-funded project to create a Web-based national astronomy research collaboratory for high school students that will bring authentic scientific research to classrooms across the country. The project brings together the resources and experience of Hands-On Universe at the University of California at Berkeley, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey / National Virtual Observatory at Johns Hopkins University and the Northwestern University Collaboratory Project.

START Collaboratory documents enable students to create, share and discuss Web-based astronomy research notebooks and research reports. These documents include seamless access to gigabytes of searchable data from the SDSS and the NVO. The START Collaboratory also supports observation requests to a “Telescope Request Broker” that automatically coordinates access to telescopes around the world, and a Web Visualization Tool for visualization and measurement of FITS files from professional observatories or user observations.

The project has developed a set of research scenarios that use real astronomical problems to introduce students to the resources and tools available through the START Collaboratory. These scenarios also introduce a model for network-based collaboration that engages students, teachers and professional scientists. Great attention has been paid to ensuring that the research scenarios result in accurate and authentic research products that are of real interest to working astronomers. With the START Collaboratory, students will study science by doing science, generating useful scientific results just as professional astronomers do.

As the third and last year of the project finalizes integrating tools and resources, an NSF-funded two-year CI-TEAM project with the Adler Planetarium will begin to create a professional development program for high school teachers interested in learning how to use the START Collaboratory to engage their students in astrophysical research. Through this program, we will begin to implement the tools and research scenarios that we have designed.

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