36th DPS Meeting, 8-12 November 2004
Session 13 Education
Poster I, Tuesday, November 9, 2004, 4:00-7:00pm, Exhibition Hall 1A

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[13.09] Astrobiology Student Science Fair Projects

M. Kadooka, K. J. Meech (UH Institute for Astronomy)

Extrasolar Planet Transit and The Light Curve of a Variable Star are some titles of high school student projects entered in the Hawaii State Science Fair. These students were mentored by teachers who participated in the UH Institute for Astronomy Toward Other Planetary Systems summer program under the direction of professor Karen J. Meech. After attending several 3-week TOPS NSF workshops from 1999, these teachers in 2003 were trained to do observing plans to obtain telescope images, use image processing software MIRA for photometry, and produce light curves of variable stars and extrasolar planet transits. Others used the software Astrometrica to do astrometry of Kuiper Belt Objects.

Using Compaq laptop computers on long term loan, our teachers mentored their students for astronomy projects during the 2003-2004 school year with the assistance of IfA astronomers and graduate students. Observing plans for images from the 31 inch Lowell Telescope in Arizona and the 2.2 meter UH telescope at Mauna Kea Observatory were followed. Students had to learn about variables such as exposure time, magnitude, frequency requirements, and ephemeris. The many iterations were time consuming and demanded patience and perseverance. Poor weather conditions exposed the students to the realities of astronomy research, so they experienced the highs of successful projects.

Future projects will be related to the UH NAI team research using the 2.0 meter Faulkes Telescope located on Haleakala on island of Maui. The TOPS program is funded by National Science Foundation.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 #4
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.