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March 6
@ 9:30 am
- 12:00 pm


Event Information

March 6
9:30 am - 12:00 pm
Event Category:


United States + Google Map

Host Organization:

Teen Astronomy Cafe


Space & Astronomy
Online, Presentation

Teen Astronomy Cafe: Breaking the Solar System (and Other Ways Simulations Help Us Understand Our Universe)

Speakers: Dr. Christine O’Donnell and Dr. Rachel Smullen

Dr. Christine O’Donnell is a postdoctoral researcher at Arizona State University, and her passion is to improve science education. She received her astrophysics Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in 2020, and her dissertation included research combining computer simulations of the universe with observational data to understand how galaxies like our own Milky Way formed, as well as research into inclusive education designs. Outside of work, Christine enjoys volunteering with animal rescues and participating in hobbies such as glassblowing.

Dr. Rachel Smullen is an astronomer at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She received her PhD in astrophysics from the University of Arizona in 2020. In her research life, Rachel studies how stars and planets form and evolve using large computer simulations. Her work has ranged from analyzing how clouds of gas collapse to form stars to exploring how planets like Tatooine can exist and investigating how Pluto got its moons. Rachel likes to use astronomy as a gateway science to share her passion for science and technology with people of all ages. In her spare time, she enjoys most things geeky and nerdy.


The Teen Astronomy Café

The Teen Astronomy Café program is an out-of-school program that offers high school students opportunities to interact with scientists who work at the forefront of astronomy. The program will be from 9:30am til noon on one Saturday morning each month from October through May (except for January).

Students explore the birth and death of stars, killer asteroids, the structure of the universe, gravitational lenses, dark energy, dark matter, colliding galaxies and more. A hands-on activity related to the short presentation will follow as part of the Teen Astronomy Cafés experience – either as a state-of-the-art computer lab activity, a movie, a deeper discussion, or an exploration of the topic with a 3-D printer or an Oculus Rift. The students will use the actual computer programs and data that the scientists use!

The Teen Astronomy Cafés are open to all high school students at no cost. The program aims to elevate student achievement and desire to go to college, and perhaps inspire some students to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM).

If students are interested in attending any or all of the Teen Astronomy Cafés, please have them register at