Teachers are TOPS! - The Plan
When Rosa Hemphill, Sophia Hu and Jean Hamai, high school teachers from Oregon and Hawaii, attended an educator workshop called Toward Other Planetary Systems (TOPS), they knew that they would be learning the skills needed to mentor student projects using a dedicated-to-education telescope named the Faulkes Telescope - North (FTN). But now, they are an important part of Deep Impact's education and outreach team planning for the July 2005 encounter with Comet Tempel 1.
They began their training at TOPS, a highly successful 5-year NSF-funded program conducted by the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii and led by Deep Impact science team member, Professor Karen Meech. The teachers attended the annual meeting of planetary astronomers, DPS. They reported on materials they are developing for student projects using the Faulkes telescope on Maui and observing the encounter of the Deep Impact spacecraft with Comet Tempel 1.
Among the first teachers to be trained to use this remotely operable facility, they are in a position to use this resource for significant monitoring of the comet as it approaches perihelion (its closest point to the Sun) and during encounter. They will be working with students to develop science fair projects with these data. Plans for partnering teachers with amateur astronomers will provide a framework for development of teacher-student-amateur astronomer teams advised by professional astronomers.
While at the DPS meeting, they had an opportunity to meet with Deep Impact science and outreach team members for planning of special educator programs at launch and encounter. Rosa Hemphill is with Oregon Episcopal School in Portland, Oregon, and both Sophia Hu, with McKinley High School and Jean Hamai with Kamehameha Schools are in Honolulu, Hawaii.
To learn more about one of these special teachers, Meet Jean Hamai.