Middle Schoolers Present Research at American Astronomical Society Annual Conference

Shipley Middle Schoolers Anderson Knipe ’28 and Lily Pressman ’28 presented their joint research on young stellar objects at the 243rd Meeting of the American Astronomical Society held January 7-11 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Nearly 3,500 astronomers, educators, students, and journalists attended the conference, which featured various scientific presentations, workshops, town halls, and more.

Along with Middle School Science Teacher Mx. Schwarz, Anderson and Lily collaborated with students at seven other high schools and universities around the country with mentor astronomer Dr. Luisa Rebull of California Institute of Technology to conduct their research and compile it into a presentation titled “Looking for Young Stellar Objects in Obscure Sharpless Regions.” 

Lily and Anderson, the youngest researchers at the conference, presented their findings in the Student Pavilion to conference attendees, including NASA representatives, a public affairs officer of the U.S. Naval Observatory, and more. 

According to the NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program (NITARP), the team worked with data from NASA’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) at the California Institute of Technology from 10 different telescopes to look for young stars. They started from a catalog originally assembled from photographic data by Stuart Sharpless in 1959 and picked several ignored targets to explore further, using multi-wavelength archival data to look for young stellar object candidates.

NITARP is an organization that facilitates getting teachers involved in authentic astronomical research. They partner small groups of largely high school educators with a mentor professional astronomer for an original research project which is then presented at the AAS annual conference.

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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.