Stellar STEM Weekends were first piloted in cooperation with the Northwestern University Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR), the Northwestern Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, and the Northwestern Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2018 and 2019. Though the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the planning that was underway in 2020, we are now back in a position to reprise these Weekends of science education and cultural exchange. We are now exploring the possibility of running a Chicago-area Stellar STEM Weekend in 2024 with participation from (astro)physicists and affiliates of the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. Check back for more soon!
Participants and chaperone (left) with Prof. Patty Loew (right) after the 2018 cultural exchange dinner on the Evanston lakefront.
A series of virtual workshops for Indigenous students (grades 8 - 11) in remote locations.
VERGE aims to make programming like the Stellar STEM Weekends accessible to Native students from reservations, rural areas, and the like. VERGE weekends will include talks and instruction from professional astronomers/astrophysicists, cultural exchange and a discussion of traditional star knowledge, and a conversation about the night sky as one of our greatest collective resources.
Though generally useful as a primer, our book, Astronomy as a Field: A Guide for Aspiring Astrophysicists, was created as a supplement to the content of VERGE weekends for participating students. A virtual copy can be found here.
VERGE has been funded by one of the inaugural grants from the International Astronomical Union’s North American Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (NA-ROAD) Women and Girls in Astronomy Program. As a result, our 2024 program will exclusively enroll girls. We anticipate expanding enrollment in the future.
Interested in participating? To sign up for email updates please fill out our student interest form. Alternatively, if you’re a teacher interested in learning about our opportunities for your students, please fill out our teacher interest form.
Our first official VERGE program ran on January 27, 2024 for Native Hawaiian girls in late middle school and high school.
Participants enjoying citizen science during the 2019 Stellar STEM Weekend.
We thank the IAU North American Regional Office of Astronomy for Development and the Heising-Simons Foundation for their support of our 2023-2024 VERGE weekend.
A collage of images from our inaugural VERGE program in January 2024.