The NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program (NITARP)
NITARP, the NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program, partners small groups of predominantly high school educators with research astronomers for a year-long research project. This paper presents a summary of how NITARP works and the lessons learned over the last 13 years. The program lasts a calendar year, January to January, and involves three week-long trips: to the American Astronomical Society (AAS) winter meeting, to Caltech in the summer (with students), and back to a winter AAS meeting (with students) to present their results. Because NITARP has been running since 2009, and its predecessor ran from 2005-2008, there have been many lessons learned over the last 13 years that have informed the development of the program. The most critical is that scientists must see their work with the educators on their team as a partnership of equals who have specialized in different professions. NITARP teams appear to function most efficiently with approximately 5 people: a mentor astronomer, a mentor teacher (who has been through the program before), and 3 new educators. Educators are asked to step into the role of learner and develop their question-asking skills as they work to develop an understanding of a subject in which they will not have command of all the information and processes needed. Critical to the success of each team is the development of communication skills and fluid plan of action to keep the lines of communication open. This program has allowed more than 100 educators to present more than 60 total science posters at the AAS.