Oak Hill Blog

Oak Hill Academy Students Assist in NASA Research at CalTech This Summer

Alice and Mikun (back row) work with a team to analyze data collected by the Spitzer Space Telescope


Mr. Gary Duranko, a recent hire in the Oak Hill Academy Math and Science departments, chaperoned a recent exciting trip for two of our students, Alice and Mikun, to The California Institute of Technology this summer.  The Oak Hill Academy trio is now part of a team of teachers and students from around the United States that are doing groundbreaking research with a NASA astronomer using data collected by the Spitzer Space Telescope.  Seeking to identify trants arsitional stages in star or galaxy development, the world-renowned telescope is used to analyze large portions of the sky using infa-red wavelengths.

The team worked 8 hour days at the Spitzer Science Center on CalTech’s campus where the Institute’s engineers work with NASA.  The team got a complete overview of the research project, learned about the software programs in use, and toured the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that controls several NASA satellites and missions.  Being tourists in the area, they also briefly took in the sites along Hollywood Boulevard and ate at the Hard Rock Cafe!

Oak Hill Academy around the country!

The project will be ongoing and, while school is in session this year, Alice and Mikun (with Mr. Duranko’s support) will meet once weekly to look at data and pictures taken by Spitzer.  They will continue to categorize data in preparation for a presentation at the next American Astronomical Society meeting in January, 2018 just outside of Washington, D.C.  Oak Hill Academy is pleased to announce that our science curriculum will now include an Astronomy class and a newly founded Astronomy Club should prove very popular.  Our location, far from the light pollution found in more densely populated areas, should prove a huge advantage to our sky-watchers.

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