The NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program (NITARP)

  • Luisa Rebull Caltech-IPAC/IRSA and NITARP
  • Michael Fitzgerald Edith Cowan University
  • Tracy Roberts Caltech-IPAC/ICE
  • Debbie A French Wilkes University
  • Wendi Laurence Create-osity
  • Varoujan Gorjian Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NITARP
  • Gordon K Squires Caltech-IPAC/ICE


NITARP, the NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program, partners small groups of largely high school educators with research astronomers for a year-long research project. This paper presents a summary of how NITARP works. Because NITARP has been running since 2009, and its predecessor ran from 2005-2008, there have been many lessons learned over the last 13 years, some of which are also discussed here. The most important of these include the following. Scientists must see their work with the educators on their team as a partnership of equals. Educators must be reminded often that they will not have command of all the information needed during their NITARP year, and that it is ok to ask lots of questions. NITARP teams need to be about 5 people: a mentor astronomer, a mentor teacher (who has been through the program before), and 3 new educators; larger or smaller teams just don’t work as well. Teams need to communicate regularly and frequently through their year.