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Research Experiences for Teachers


Summer 2011

Radio Waves in Astronomy and Space Science

A workshop for teachers at MIT Haystack Observatory

Why are radio waves so important to modern society?

How do astronomers and atmospheric scientists use radio waves in their research?

Do storms on the Sun affect radio waves that we use on Earth?

Attend this Workshop at the MIT Haystack Observatory to learn more about radio waves, how they are used in astronomy and space science, and how to talk with your students about the modern importance of radio waves. Haystack scientists will introduce you to their research, and teachers who have worked at Haystack will present units that have been developed for the high school classroom through the NSF Research Experiences for Teachers program.

Dates: July 11-15, 2011

9:00 - 2:30 daily

Location: MIT Haystack Observatory, Off Rte. 40, Westford, MA, 01886

Open to high school science teachers.

There is no fee to attend this workshop; attendees receive PDPs and a $300.00 stipend.

To apply: There is no application form. Send or e-mail a letter of application that includes why you are interested in this workshop and information about where and what you teach.

For more information contact K.T. Paul, 617-715-5400, or e-mail

Application Deadline - May 31, 2011

Limited number of spaces available.


As a leader in radio astronomy and space science Haystack Observatory has, for many years, been preparing the next generation of scientists by working with college students. Today, through the development of the Very Small Radio Telescope, the Mesospheric Ozone System for Atmospheric Investigations in the Classroom, and the creation of units specifically developed for high school classrooms, Haystack is also helping to introduce high school students to radio astronomy.

The nearest star to Earth, our Sun, dominates our radio sky and provides a convenient laboratory to investigate radio phenomena. In addition, large sunspot regions create intense solar outbursts that can cause huge disturbances in Earth's geomagnetic field. These dramatically change the ionosphere, affecting cellular phones, pagers, satellite communications, and power grids in ways that have become increasingly important to our technology-driven society. At Haystack Observatory, MIT scientists study these space weather effects using high power radars and GPS systems.

Through this workshop, teachers will learn the basics of radio astronomy and space science, and will receive teaching materials that can be used in their classes to introduce these subjects to their students.

Tentative Schedule - Morning coffee and lunch provided each day

Monday - Welcome; Introduction to Haystack Observatory, Introduction to Radio Waves and Their Properties, AM/FM Radio Waves

Tuesday - Introduction to space weather and walking tour of the UHF antenna, Solar and Geomagnetic Investigations

Wednesday - Introduction to Radio Astronomy, the Murchison Widefield Array, Chemistry and Physics of the Upper Atmosphere

Thursday - Introduction to the Very Small Radio Telescope, Hands-on with the VSRT

Friday - Introduction to the MOSAIC system, Physics and Measurement of Ozone in the Upper Atmosphere with MOSAIC, Teacher Exchange, Wrap-up session



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