Astronomers in Training Assisting the Community Team Member
Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve STEM Network
Ciera Partyka-Worley is part of NASA's Science Activation Program (SciAct). SciAct has projects and NASA teams across the U.S. that are helping learners of all ages do science!
What first sparked your interest in science, technology, engineering, and/or math?
The astronomy unit in high school Earth science really caught my attention. My teacher was very passionate about the space content, and that passion was contagious.
I love learning about the largest, hottest, farthest, and oldest things in the universe, and sharing that knowledge with the community.
What Science Activation project(s) are you affiliated with?
I'm affiliated with the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve STEM Network, particularly the Astronomers in Training Assisting the Community (AstroTAC) team within it.
Tell us about your job. What do you do?
As an AstroTAC member, I do a wide variety of things for the program. I collaborate with teachers and community members to organize and participate in astronomy outreach events. I create custom content that includes lessons, activities, stargazing, solar gazing, or our portable planetarium. Most of our events are astronomy activities at elementary schools. We can really see the positive impact we have on Idaho's more rural schools like Stanley and Castleford.
I also help host Boise State's First Friday Astronomy Events where we invite guest speakers from around the world to talk about their astronomy programs and research. After their talks, I give tours of Boise State's observatory, and if the weather is kind, I can show people a glimpse of the planets in the southern sky.
AstroTAC is working with educational professionals in Boise State's Education department to convert NASA educational materials into 5E lesson plans that align with Idaho Science Standards. The 5Es are Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate.
Last but not least, we promote our namesake: the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. We partner with the board members of the reserve to spread the word about light pollution, how it can affect our night skies, and how we can preserve the darkness that allows us to see the stars.
What's one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in learning more about science?
Don't be afraid to admit you don't know something. When you admit that, it gives you an opportunity to go learn about it. If you're not sure where to start learning, just start asking "why?" and don't stop.
What is your favorite science image or visualization, and why? (Please include a link)
I'm a big fan of LIGO's Sound of Two Black Holes Colliding. It's a monumental moment in scientific history to record a cosmological event like this. I'm used to hearing about planets that will spiral into their star "soon" (hundreds of thousands of years), or the merging of the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies in four billion years.
Two black holes colliding sounds like the kind of exciting thing I'd never get to see in my lifetime, yet here it is! Not to mention that it proved Einstein's theory about gravitational waves to be true.
What are some fun facts about yourself?
My favorite thing to do is play video games. Some of my favorites include Hollow Knight, Outer Wilds, and Skyrim. I've also been playing Dungeons & Dragons for over three years as both a player and Game Master.