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Using a low resolution near-infrared spectrograph on 2-4m class telescopes, I will be monitoring a large set of T Tauri stars in the Taurus-Auriga star forming region. In this wavelength regime (0.8-2.5 um), there are several emission features thought to be associated with accretion activity located very near the central star. The variability of these accretion signatures as well as the modulation of the spectral energy distributions of these sources may provide a unique insight into the physical link between the star and its disk, the evolving structure of the inner disk, mass accretion rates, disk winds, etc. As the data set increases, variability on timescales of hours, days, and years will be probed testing many of our present theories about accreting young stars and their near environments.
My education and public outreach will focus on a three-hour seminar course covering a variety of astronomy concepts (most addressing the local standards of learning) offered to pre-service K-12 teachers. The class can be broken up into three major themes: hands-on astronomy lessons, lesson development, and effective teaching strategies. There also will be an emphasis on the practical aspect of hands-on teaching where my students will have the opportunity to bring original lessons into the classroom. Additionally, the final project will include a trip to a local K-12 science class.