Presentation #432.07 in the session “Education and Public Engagement II: Broadening Participation in Education and Resources for Students”.
The Star Hunt is a project being carried out within the framework of the Nobel Prize Museum’s Help a Scientist program, now in its tenth year. This program aims to involve Swedish middle school students (grades 8 and 9) in scientific research projects. The Star Hunt is the first Astronomy related science project in this program. It started in Sept. 2020 and will conclude by Feb. 2021 and is involving >1500 school children in about 60 classes from >20 schools all over Sweden. In the Star Hunt the children first learn some general background material about Astronomy and Physics needed for the project. They then carry out two research projects related to star formation from the interstellar medium, analyzing data via the World-Wide-Telescope (WWT) platform. First, the students examine the structure and orientation of dark filaments and bright “feedback” bubbles in and around Infrared Dark Clouds (IRDCs), which are expected to be the progenitors of massive stars and star clusters. The goal is learn about the processes that may form the IRDCs and thus initiate most of the star formation in galaxies. Second, the students focus on massive stars that are in the process of forming and which have been observed in the infrared by NASA/DLR’s SOFIA airborne telescope. The goal here is to search for neighboring stars from other infrared images, e.g., from 2MASS and Spitzer-GLIMPSE, to understand the cluster environment around the forming massive stars and thus test theories of their formation. In this talk, I present a brief overview of the project, including lessons learned from its development and implementation.