NASA Community College Network
I am a Science Matter Expert for the NASA Community College Network (NCCN) where I have discussed curriculum development with Community College (CC) Instructors and also presented my research interests and career path to CC “Introduction to Astronomy” classrooms. As a former CC student myself, I know all too well how CC students often do not have equitable access to these resources as compared to their University peers. If you are a CC Instructor and would like to participate in the NCCN, please join our network by signing up here NCCN.
AAUW STEM Ambassador
I am a STEM Ambassador for the American Association of Univerisity Women (AAUW) STEMed for girls program, which brings female scientists from a broad range of STEM fields and career paths to female middle- and high-school students interested in college and pursuing a career in STEM fields. As an AAUW STEM Ambassador, I discussed my research, non-traditional education path, and career path in astronomy with girls from all over the world.
The Light Activity
Designed in collaboration with Alexa Villaume, another former graduate student at UCSC.
This activity involves teaching local high school students about how astronomers study light from distant objects to infer the physical laws of the universe. We set up numerous arc lamps that contain a single-element gas. The students, working in groups, make observations of the different elements and determine what elements the spectral signatures correspond to by comparing their observations with a spectral list of several elements. Their job is to work together and decide the elements that correspond with each lamp.
This activity is aimed at middle- to high-school students. Our goals are to teach these students how observational astronomers use light to study objects in space and how they infer properties of these objects by studying the light they emit. We also aim to teach the students the scientific method and how it is applied to research. Our activity also encourages the students to work together in a collaborative setting. We target under-resourced and alternative schools.
I was an author for the astronomy blog www.astrobites.com from 2011-2013. This site has daily paper summaries for top astronomical research. These summaries are written by graduate students and intended for both an undergraduate astronomy audience and the public.
I enjoy giving public talks to both high school and college students where I discuss my exciting research and also my unconventional path into astronomy. The goal of these talks is to encourage students to consider a college education even if they do not have the financial means or grades to think that it’s possible. I also aim to get students excited about science, astrophysics, and computer science.
I’ve also designed a talk titled “How to Make Massive Stars on a (Super)Computer” which I have presented to community college and high school students, Science/Astronomy on Tap public events, and local astronomy clubs. It describes my research but also focuses on how astronomers use large numerical simulations (and computer programming) to study the Universe.
If you have any interest in me presenting one of these talks to your students please email me at anna (at) ucsd.edu.