31 October 2023

Education Committee Announces Eight Winners of 2024 EPD Mini-Grants

Tom Rice

Tom Rice American Astronomical Society (AAS)

EPD mini-grant funded activity at AAS 235 in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, January 2020: Attendees work together at the LightSound workshop. Photo by © CorporateEventImages/Todd Buchanan 2020
EPD mini-grant funded activity at AAS 235 in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, January 2020: Attendees work together at the LightSound workshop. Photo by © CorporateEventImages/Todd Buchanan 2020 

The AAS Education Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023–2024 award cycle for our Education & Professional Development (EPD) Mini-Grant program. We are proud to provide full or partial funding to the following eight programs, six of which will take place as workshops at the winter AAS meeting in New Orleans, while the other two programs will happen later in 2024. To stay in the loop, you can sign up for the AAS Education Biweekly Newsletter. Please congratulate these winners! We hope you engage with the following education & professional development resources.

EPD-sponsored workshops at AAS 243

You can sign up for these workshops when you register for AAS 243 in New Orleans, which takes place in January 2024. Act soon, as the early registration deadline is 8 November! If you have already registered, you can easily add these workshops to your registration by logging back into the registration site.

Saturday, 6 January

Cross-Cultural Public Engagement On and Off the Eclipse Path with NASA PUNCH Outreach

8:30 am – 3:30 pm, Saturday, 6 January

Principal Investigators: Jason Trump, Cherilynn Morrow, and Marialis Rosario-Franco

Join the Outreach Team for NASA’s PUNCH (Polarimeter to UNify the Corona and Heliosphere) mission in a unique 1-day workshop which combines hands-on training and real outreach practice with a novel suite of field-tested, multisensory, multicultural activities, and an opportunity to interact candidly with a panel of experts about successful collaboration with Hispanic communities. Interested participants can receive field-tested activity materials to support their eclipse or Sun-related outreach efforts.

Mentoring Methods for Socially Conscious Astronomers

2:00 – 5:00 pm, Saturday, 6 January

Principal Investigator: Nicole Cabrera Salazar

Mentoring Methods prepare scientists in positions of privilege and power to mentor students of marginalized identities through emotional, relational, and collective work. This workshop aims to empower academics at any career level with the tools to practice equitable and inclusive actions in their mentor-mentee relationship. Our goal in this is to provide mentors a space to practice vulnerability and authenticity and to experience what it means to be in the right relation with others.

Sunday, 7 January

Increasing Student Learning and Inclusion in Your Classroom: Strategies from the Faculty Teaching Institute

9:00 am – 4:00 pm, Sunday, 7 January

Principal Investigators: Edward Prather, Colin Wallace, and Rica French

This workshop will engage participants with how to successfully combine principles of learning, course design structures, and multiple instructional strategies to create classes that support students of all backgrounds, and actively engage learners in collaborations to deepen their knowledge and abilities, resulting in significant learning gains and retention of students. The workshop is specifically designed to provide participants with a safe and supportive environment that increases their agency, fosters open discourse, and promotes reflection on their identities, beliefs, and local context. This workshop is appropriate for all members of the AAS, at all points in their career paths.

Saving Astronomy and the Environment: Tools and Approaches for Addressing Existential Threats

1:00 – 5:00 pm, Sunday, 7 January

Principal Investigators: Douglas Arion, Michelle Wooten, Michael Rutkowski, and James Lowenthal

The Committee for the Protection of Astronomy and the Space Environment (COMPASSE) and the Sustainability Committee invite the AAS membership to join us in our mission to protect astronomy from pending threats (including the rapid growth of ground-based light pollution, satellite constellations, and climate change-induced wildfire smoke) and to preserve the environment of the skies for future generations. Our workshop will develop and provide the tools and content for astronomers to engage with impacted constituencies and disciplines that are critical in our advocacy and mitigation efforts, and whom we need as allies to sustain astronomy as a research enterprise.

Effectively Communicating Your Research: A Hands-On Workshop

1:00 – 5:30 pm, Sunday, 7 January

Principal Investigator: Kari Frank

The goals of the workshop are to help astronomers improve their own presentation skills and to gain confidence in communicating their work to nonexpert audiences. The interactive half-day workshop will provide frameworks to help attendees be intentional in their communication and to practice these key tactics. “The program was invaluable to me as a researcher — it prepared me to present my results effectively and clearly to a wide variety of audiences, from job talks to middle school students.”

How to Read Papers Efficiently and Effectively: A Workshop on Critical Reading for Students and Instructors

1:00 – 4:45 pm, Sunday, 7 January

Principal Investigator: Genevive Bjorn

Learn to read research papers efficiently and effectively with the CERIC method, a strategic approach that ensures comprehension of the essential concepts. This transformative workshop, tailored for students and instructors, offers hands-on practice, equipping participants to improve comprehension, engage in meaningful discussions, and expand critical reading skills to writing and peer review.

EPD-funded activities outside of AAS meetings

The Education Committee is also pleased to support the following programs which will take place after the AAS winter meeting. Stay tuned for opportunities to engage with each of these projects by signing up for the AAS Education Biweekly Newsletter.

Improving STEM Education Project Design with Professional Development for Emerging Education Researchers

Principal Investigators: Scott Franklin, Eleanor Sayre

High-quality STEM education research is not a solo effort, and many emerging discipline-based education researchers (DBERs) face isolation as the only STEM education researcher in their department. Professional development for Emerging Education Researchers (PEER) provides targeted professional development for faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and advanced graduate students drawn to pedagogy and student learning, at primarily undergraduate or emerging research institutions, and/or looking to jump-start scholarship by incorporating research into ongoing classroom practice. We will provide support for AAS members to engage with PEER resources, including partial travel support for several AAS members to attend a PEER field school.

Revamping Education on Belonging, Equity, and Leadership (REBEL) Webinars

Principal Investigators: Ferah Munshi, Natasha Latouf, Sara Doan, Raina Elliot, Jeffrey McKaig, and Emma Schwartzman

Our grassroots organization, Spectrum, will provide a Revamping Education on Belonging, Equity, and Leadership (REBEL) webinar series, which will be made publicly available to any AAS member. These webinars will consist of short, informative videos using expert presenters that begin from basic term definitions and work up to nuanced topics such as mentorship and white-knighting, thus providing a baseline education for astronomers on AJEDI topics using the cutting-edge in mentorship and AJEDI research.

Congratulations again to the grant recipients! The Education Committee expects to offer its next Call for Proposals in the spring or summer of 2024 for the 2024–2025 cycle. To stay in the loop for AAS Education news, including the next cycle of EPD proposals, you can sign up for the AAS Education Biweekly Newsletter.

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