IDATA Teacher Application

IDATA Project Summary

Modern astronomy relies on computers and computational thinking for nearly every aspect of collecting, analyzing, and presenting data. Visual interfaces commonly used for these computational processes present unique challenges for blind and visually impaired (BVI) individuals. In as much as BVI individuals are severely underrepresented across all fields of STEM, the dearth of vision-neutral tools in astronomy further raises the barrier-to-entry for BVI individuals.

IDATA is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and brings together blind and visually impaired (BVI) and sighted high school students and their teachers to create a fully accessible astronomy data request, retrieval and analysis software tool. Students and teachers will engage in this 3-year project collaborating with astronomy and computing science professionals, and educators and education researchers in the design and development of the software as well as learning modules and tutorials that help students explore the role of computation in astronomy. The project team will utilize user-centered design/universal designing (UCD/UD) processes and iterative methods for the development and testing of software and the modules: improving access to our amazing universe for those with visual impairments. Teachers and students who fully participate in IDATA will be considered co-developers in the project, and their contribution will be recognized in the dissemination of IDATA final products.

Education Research: IDATA is a NSF STEM+C project, and will also work to advance knowledge and understanding of best practices in teaching and learning related to computation and computational thinking in astronomy and how participation influences students’ attitudes and beliefs about who can engage in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and computing. The accessible software and instructional modules and tutorials produced by the project may be adopted by a range of BVI and sighted individuals, and may also be transferable to other similarly visually-intensive domains such as satellite, geophysical, and medical imaging. For more information about IDATA please visit IDATA in the News at

Who can apply? IDATA will select 20 educators to participate in the 3-year effort; ten educators from within a 75-mile radius of Yerkes Observatory in southeastern Wisconsin (Tier 1 Teachers), and ten educators from across the U.S. and its territories (Tier 2 Teachers). Participating educators will be responsible for recruiting high school students to participate in the project as well. Eligible educators include those who teach the visually impaired, special education educators who work with BVI students, and astronomy, space science, physics, computer science, or technology educators working with students at the high school level. Please review the remainder of the application and contact contact Kate Meredith at or 262-245-5555 ext. 836, or Tim Spuck at or 814-758-9527 if you have any questions.

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